"It was really fun there, like shooting the Nerf guns," said Luke McCormick of his time waiting for a bone marrow transplant in the hospital.
Most kids who need life-saving transplants don't look back on their time in the hospital with fondness. But that's the kind of kid Luke is.
On Saturday, he finally met the bone-marrow donor that saved his life: Austin Rains. It was a moment three years in the making.
"To see Luke meet him, it just, butterflies, I was nervous, I hadn't eaten anything. I had no idea. But of course Luke carries it so well. He was like, 'Oh yeah, hi, nice to meet you!' He was so warm and welcoming. It was awesome. It was a wonderful feeling," said Jennifer McCormick, Luke's mom.
Luke was diagnosed with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) in 2014 and after six months of waiting, he found his match and got the transplant. The McCormicks had been in contact with Rains ever since they found out he was a match but they didn't meet until Saturday, which is why Jennifer says that Austin already felt like family when everyone finally met face-to-face.
"Luke's already like, 'This is my brother. He's part of my family now,'" she said. "It really kind of restores your faith in humanity that somebody is willing to go out of their way to give you life and give themselves to you."
"So many people have thanked me today for what I've done and it's just humbling," Austin Rains said. "I don't like to boast and brag about it but I like to share my story because it makes you think anybody can do this. Anybody can register and be a match. It's great. I would highly encourage anyone who is willing and able to sign up on BeTheMatch.org."
Luke and Austin weren't the only new family gathered at Methodist Hospital's "Bone Marrow Brothers" event. As their story and message spread, they hope that their extended transplant family keeps getting bigger and bigger.
"You have the opportunity to change someone's life. It makes you think, you're just one human in the world and they're just another human in the world and now you're connected for life," Rains said. "It's an awesome opportunity to be able to connect with someone like that."
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Luke's journey also helped save his sister's life as well. Jennifer said that when Luke was diagnosed with HLH, she had her other kids tested for it because it's a genetic disorder. They found out that her daughter Melody also had it and needed a transplant. Luckily, Luke and Melody's youngest brother, Callum, was a perfect match for her.
For more information on how you can become a bone marrow donor to change someone's life, go to BeTheMatch.org.