NEW YORK -- Wendy Wax knew her blood stem cell donor was a real person, but felt a need to confirm it. She felt desire to see the person who saved her life in flesh as well as blood. So when a Citi Field suite door opened Wednesday and Ruchail
NEW YORK -- Wendy Wax knew her blood stem cell donor was a real person, but felt a need to confirm it. She felt desire to see the person who saved her life in flesh as well as blood. So when a Citi Field suite door opened Wednesday and Ruchail Feldman walked through, Wax reached out and grabbed her, hugged her, cried with her.
"It's overwhelming," Wax said. "You feel this unbelievable connection to a perfect stranger."
Wax's story began three years ago, when she drove to the emergency room thinking she was simply dehydrated. That night, the New Jersey resident learned that she was suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a blood cancer. Wax asked doctors what she needed to do to fix it, knowing she had to go home and care for her young daughter. They advised her to seek a bone marrow transplant.
Through Gift of Life, an organization that matches donors with recipients, Wax received one from Feldman, a Connecticut woman with a husband and young child of her own. But the two never met, and didn't even knew each other's names, until the meeting that Gift of Life arranged Wednesday at Citi Field.
"So many charities or organizations talk about finding a cure, and at Gift of Life we strongly believe the cure is in everyone," Gift of Life chairman William Begal said. "The power of one person to swab their cheek literally saves the world, and makes it a different place."
For that small action, Wax considers Feldman her hero. Feldman believes she is nothing of the sort.
"My recipient is my hero," Feldman said. "She fought every day to survive."
Over the past two decades, Gift of Life has facilitated more than 3,100 bone marrow transplants in 45 countries, relying on its database to match donors such as Feldman with recipients like Wax. If the two parties want to meet, as is often the case, Gift of Life facilitates that as well.
The Mets are thrilled to play their little role in the process, offering a suite to Gift of Life to host Wednesday's meeting. With her husband, daughter, mother and other family members all clustered together in a room overlooking right field, Wax finally confirmed that her hero is real.
"It's amazing," Begal said. "We are beyond appreciative of what [Mets COO Jeff] Wilpon has done with us for 13 years now. Giving us a suite, allowing us to go on the field, sharing the moment of a life saved and a life given, and allowing us to increase and raise awareness by doing it here."
Added Begal: "Pretty good afternoon."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.