NEW YORK CITY, New York (WLNS) — A Michigan State University student met the organ donor who saved his life on national television.
As part of “Good Morning America” broadcast in January, Joe Burr met Armando Garcia, a man who provided Burr with a life-saving bone marrow transplant.
While Burr was being treated at the University of Michigan Children’s Hospital in 2021, he was matched with Garcia using Be the Match, a nonprofit bone marrow donor program.
“Thank you for giving me a second chance at life. Last year was probably one of the best years of my life. I finally got to go and live at Michigan State and attend classes there, I went to my first-ever concerts, I got to travel around the country with my mom. I got to go back to living the happy, healthy life that I had before I relapsed,” Burr said.
Burr grew up in Novi after being adopted from Guatemala and was diagnosed with leukemia in 2018.
He said he was on the Be the Match registry just in case he ever needed the help.
“I was on Be the Match registry, originally when I first diagnosed, just in case I ever needed it,” Burr said.
Burr ended up relapsing one month after completing his freshman year at MSU in 2021. Prior to relapsing, he underwent three years of chemotherapy and was only six rounds left from being done with treatment.
“Originally, when I heard I needed a match, I was kind of nervous, like, would I be able to get one? But hearing there was a 12/12 marker match was cool to hear and exciting,” Burr said.
Eventually Burr matched Garcia, a producer for ABC News in New York, and the two later met on Good Morning America.
Garcia said he decided to make the donation because, as a journalist, he felt compelled to use the opportunity to report about how Hispanic people, like himself, are underrepresented in bone marrow registries.
Burr said the two still stay in contact.
“After we did the segment on Good Morning America, we went out to lunch later that day, had a good one-on-one talk,” Burr said.
And thankfully, Burr is feeling much better these days.
“It took me a while to get back to where I was before, get all my energy back, get all my back, but right now I am feeling probably the best I’ve ever felt in my life,” Burr said.