DENVER (KDVR) – A program that pairs patients in need of life-saving transplants with anonymous donors led to one local man’s recovery from leukemia and now, at long last, they’ve met in person.

Greg Hirons, a local doctor in Westminster, was diagnosed with leukemia back in 2019.

“For my family, my wife, and my son, it was really scary,” Hirons said. “I was scared, because, am I going to die?”

The Hirons family backpacking in Colorado, July 2020. In remission. (Greg Hirons)

He immediately started chemotherapy treatments, which temporarily helped, but his cancer ended up coming back in 2021. His only hope was to find a blood stem cell marrow donor.

That’s where organizers with Be The Match stepped up.

Be The Match’s mission

Be The Match is a registry run by the National Marrow Donor Program that connects people battling life-threatening blood cancers and disorders, like leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell, with non-relative life-saving donors.

“It’s anonymous, there are laws in place to protect the identity of the donor and the recipient, so there is never any pressure,” Erica Sevilla with Be The Match said.

Through this registry, it took no time at all for Hirons to find a donor. That anonymous donor’s name is Griffin Beaney.

May 2021 my life saver Griffin the day he donated his stem cells
(Greg Hirons)

“I wanted to just kind of do it right away,” Beaney said. “I would have done it that day if I could have.”

As May 18, 2021, arrived, Hirons noticed a change in both himself and his family.

“The actual transplant day was amazing, my wife and family, they were able to be there and kind of celebrate it as a second birthday,” Hirons said.

May 18, 2021, the day of my transplant of Beaney’s donated cells! (Greg Hirons)

The impact of life-saving anonymous gifting

According to Sevilla, one year after a donation is made through their program, the donor and the recipient have the opportunity to meet in person to shed anonymity if they so choose.

After both agreed to follow through with this, Be The Match arranged a meeting in Worcester, Massachusetts during a summer college baseball game on July 31.

“[I was] so full of emotion,” Hirons said of finally meeting Beaney. “I was bawling my eyes out basically.”

The powerful and heartwarming moment between the two was caught on film, which can be viewed in the player above.

July 31, 2022, Griffin’s parents, his fiancé Taylor, Griffin, my wife Wendy, son Sam, and me at the BTM meeting (Greg Hirons)

“I was taken aback, and it was, just like a beautiful moment, and it was something I always dreamed of,” Beaney said of the long-awaited meeting, “one of the coolest things I have ever experienced.”

“[It was] just amazing to meet this person that made this decision and five years later, saved my life, and got me on the road to recovery,” Hirons said, “it was indescribable, just an incredible experience”

Now, Beaney has guaranteed that the Hirons will have seats at his upcoming wedding, signaling that a lifelong friendship has already solidified.

How you can get involved in Be The Match

To join the donor registry, you must meet health requirements and be between the ages of 18 and 40.

If you do not meet these requirements, you can still help the program’s efforts by volunteering it donating financially.

If you’d like to join the Be The Match Registry, make a financial gift or get involved with the mission, please visit Be The Match’s landing page.