NEW YORK CITY (KDKA) -- It was an unforgettable day for a Pittsburgh veteran.
This is a guy who met the enemy in Iraq and later confronted his mortality with a devastating medical diagnosis; and on Wednesday, he met the stranger who saved his life.
That stranger is New York City firefighter Michael McCauley.
Pittsburgher Aaron Faulkner, a leukemia patient, has McCauley to thank for a life-saving bone marrow transplant. Faulkner is a Marine veteran who saw combat in Iraq.
While working toward a degree in Christian Ministries at Geneva College, Faulkner was diagnosed with cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
The New York firefighter turned out to be a bone marrow match.
"Without Michael, I had no hope of seeing my children grow up," said Faulkner.
McCauley registered to become a potential donor while at the FDNY Fire Academy.
"I just want to help someone. And any way that I can do that, it really is easy to join this," McCauley said.
Joining the donor program required a simple cheek swab.
Within months, McCauley learned he was a match for a man in Pittsburgh. He said the actual donation process was painless - like giving blood.
Faulkner and his wife, Leslie, look forward to returning to their two kids in Pittsburgh and sharing the story of a hero firefighter.
"They know that we're in New York, meeting daddy's hero," said Leslie.
The New York City Fire Department is very proud of the fact that 171 of its firefighters have been blood marrow matches for patients. More than 8,000 members of the FDNY are on the potential donor list.
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