NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - A Pasco County mother facing a leukemia battle received a life-saving transplant from a stranger in California.
A simple walk with her twins, Colton and Kylee, means everything to Amber Delgado. Her health took an unexpected turn back in 2012, before they were born.
"I went to the hospital with a pain on my left side. My spleen was four-times bigger than what it was supposed to be," Delgado said. "They told me that I had cancer and it was called chronic myelogenous leukemia."
She was in disbelief. That's when Gift of Life Marrow Registry stepped in with a possible solution - a blood stem cell transplant.
"They could find a donor for me to do a transplant," she remembers. "My kids were only 3 months old the first time they found a donor and I pushed it off."
She had to pass on the first potential transplant. But then, several years later, a young California man turned out to be the miracle she was hoping for.
Jonah Sharf was on a trip to Israel in 2017 when he decided to join the marrow registry.
"You just get an envelope and take out a cotton swab and literally just swab the inside of your mouth," Sharf described.
Months later, he received word that he was a match.
"I had known of people who had been in the registry for years and decades and they have never gotten any calls so my first thought was that's really fast," Sharf said.
One the road to recovery, Delgado got to meet Sharf at a Gift of Life Marrow Registry event in Washington, D.C.
"It was exciting to actually get to meet the person that saved your life and was able to keep me living for my kids," she said.
"Just instilled in me the need to help people if given the opportunity," Sharf added.
Two strangers are now friends, united by the gift of life.
"I just encourage everybody to go out, get your mouth swabbed be the match and you can save somebody's life like Jonah saved mine," said Sharf.
Delgado's family plans to take a trip out to California to visit Sharf.
Since its start in 1991, Gift of Life Marrow Registry has registered more than 300,000 volunteer donors and has facilitated more than 16,000 matches that resulted in more than 3,000 transplants.