BOISE -- It's nothing new for a firefighter to save someone's life. It happens every day. But recently, Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan saved the life of a young boy, even though he had never even met him.
Dalton is a normal, fun 18-month-old living in Salem, Oregon. He's healthier... now. Dalton has SCID, a group of rare and potentially deadly immune system disorders. It could've taken his life, if not for Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan, and something he did 20 years ago.
We had a battalion chief in the Boise Fire Department who's daughter had leukemia, and needed a bone marrow transplant, said Doan. So, our entire department signed up to try to be the match at that time.
Tragically, that young girl passed away. But all these 20 years, Doan stayed on the registry. In December, his marrow happened to match a little boy in Salem who needed a bone marrow transplant to save his life. It was Dalton.
I didn't realize what the family was going through, said Doan. Especially the weeks leading up to it, as they were praying for a donor.
Doan answered those prayers, had the procedure, and was back at work a few days later. He didn't know Dalton, or realize how much his donation had helped him. The marrow transplant essentially gave Dalton a new immune system, and his recovery is speeding along.
He's doing so well, that his family just had to reach out to the donor. They found out who it was, thanks to family in Idaho who saw a KTVB story about Doan's donation, and put the pieces together.
Doan says, A couple months ago, I got an anonymous letter in the mail. It said, 'Check out this website and this Facebook site.' And then, it said, 'Thank you for saving this little boy's life.'
Since then, Doan has connected with the family, communicating with them daily, and even sending Dalton a Boise Fire hat, shirt, and other gear. It brings a tear to my eye when I see pictures of him, and see him in a Boise Fire Department shirt and hat, and playing with a fire engine. He's got firefighter blood in him now, so, he's going to be a firefighter some day.
And then, Dalton might save lives, just like Chief Doan. It was a small price to pay to help a little boy.
Chief Doan says, in the 20 years since the whole Department got on the bone marrow registry, six other firefighters have also donated marrow and saved lives.
For more on Dalton's story, and how you can donate bone marrow, head to our hotlinks section.