HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Two Houstonians living just a few miles apart were complete strangers until one saved the other's life.
LaShonda Goines is a nurse at MD Anderson Cancer Center.
"I like taking care of people. I like being the positive aspect," Goines said.
When she found out she was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2017, she knew she had a fight ahead.
What Goines did not know was that a stranger living nearby would be the key to her survival.
"It was a real blessing that it worked out like it did," firefighter and Army reservist Akeem Martin said. "We're here today."
In college, Martin joined the "Be the Match" registry operated by the National Marrow Donor Program. The program performs a cheek swab, which allows for donor's medical profiles to be put in a pool of potential bone marrow and blood stem cell donors.
The donations treat cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. The program is looking for more African-Americans and Hispanics to join the registry pool, because a patient is more likely to match someone of their same ethnicity.
"If you come up as a match, you can give blood or you can give marrow. You can save a life," Martin said.
When Goines and Martin met for the first time, they were overwhelmed with joy.
"He's my hero. When he got to the stage I was like, 'Soldier, I salute you,'" Goines said.
Akeem told ABC13 that there's nothing like knowing you saved a life.
If you're interested in learning more about the Be the Match program and becoming a donor, visit their website.
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Man's stem cell donation saves blood cancer patient's life