Metro bone marrow donor and 10-year-old recipient meet for the first time in NYC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Nearly a year and a half ago, FOX4 told you about a Kansas City man who donated bone marrow to save a young man's life.

Last Wednesday, they finally met in New York in an emotional moment in front of hundreds of people. Now they say they're connected for life.

"It was incredible," donor Luke Beckett said. "It was so incredible."

Beckett joined the DKMS registry in 2012 when he was a student at Rockhurst University. He said he never imagined such a small act could save someone's life. In 2015, he got a call that he was a potential match.

Since he took that mouth swab, his life has seen a lot of changes. He graduated from college, got married to his wife, Shauna, and they had their son Corbin.

In January 2017, he donated his bone marrow. All he knew about the recipient was it was a boy who was fighting lymphoma.

In 2019, he had three more life changes. He went to work at St. Luke's and now helps people from other countries or who speak different languages communicate with doctors and staff. He and his wife also found out they are expecting a daughter in July.

The life change he didn't expect was an email in his inbox from the boy's mother.

"My heart skipped a few beats," Beckett said. "I cried. I sat in my office, and I cried just thinking about how badly I wanted this kid I didn't know -- I had no idea who he was. I knew he was nine years old, but I wanted more than anything for God to work a miracle in his life, and he had done that, and he was recovering, and he was well, and he was getting ready to start school again."

That boy is 10-year-old Carson Lenington-Stewart who lives in Akron, Ohio. He was fighting lymphoma a second time when doctors told his parents their best option was a bone marrow transplant. His sister was tested first, but wasn't a match.

Through DKMS they found three potential matches, and Beckett was the best one. The boy was diagnosed with the same cancer Beckett's wife had when she was a teenager.

Carson said cancer is a hard fight, but he wasn't going to give up.

"It wasn't that scary, but it was more challenging than the first time because it was longer, and it was tougher," he said. "We put our faith into God, and we thought that he could cure me, which he did."

The day Beckett got his mother's email, they talked. But when they found out they'd be meeting in person in just a few months, they decided to wait for their big moment.

Then both families traveled to New York City where they met on stage at the DKMS Big Love Gala.

Carson and Luke

"Being able to stand by her after having survived, and after beating that sickness, and being able to meet Carson after he had been able to beat that, and survive from that, and being able to do that with my wife, who's my everything," Beckett said. "I mean, I'll remember it for the rest of my life."

Beckett said he and Carson aren't just connected through bone marrow. They're brothers for life now.

It's a relationship both families are grateful for.

"It means more than anything anyone could mean, say or speak," Carson said. "It's the greatest gift ever."

"A lot of the milestones that Carson now hits and goes through," Carson's dad, Scotty Stewart said, "birthdays or special events or things that happens to him that he just can’t wait to actually share with Luke."

"He has our support. He has our love," Beckett said. "Carson has such a passion for life. He’s who I saw myself being when I was 10. He gets excited about everything, and everything has such a vibrance to it when you’re at that age. I'll always be connected to him, and I'll always be wiling to do whatever I can to be there for him."

Beckett said he hopes his and Carson's story will inspire people to get swabbed and join the bone marrow registry. It's free and could mean a chance for someone fighting for their life.

"The upside is enormous, and there’s no downside," Beckett said. "There’s no downside. It is such a simple process. It is so easy, and it can literally change someone else’s life. The simplicity of it is incredible, but I think everyone should be on that registry because of the impact you can make loving your neighbor, taking care of the person next to you."

If you would like to register to be a bone marrow donor, the process is simple. Visit DKMS.org and register. They will mail you a pouch to swab your cheek. Send it back and wait. If you are a match, they'll give you a call to let you know.

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