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Posted: 5:28 p.m. Friday, March 8, 2013
By Tenikka Smith
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Jessica Johnson met Justin Solomon and his family face-to-face for the first time. They are strangers forever connected after Johnson's bone marrow donation saved Justin's life.
Johnson lives in Florida and joined the National Bone Marrow Registry in 1999. She updated her address with the registry after moving in November 2011.
Two weeks later, she learned she was a match for Justin. Her donation helped send the 18-year-old's leukemia into remission.
"How do you thank someone that just gave you back your entire life?" Justin asked.
"All I wanted to do was see her, touch her, hug her, and thank her," said Justin’s mother Jennifer Solomon.
Their meeting Friday at the Hendrick Motorsports campus comes as Justin faces a new challenge.
His kidneys aren't functioning properly. He is on dialysis and doctors said he needs a transplant. Thanks to Johnson, Justin said has renewed hope to face what's ahead.
"People are out there who do care and are willing to sacrifice," Justin said.
"Just the opportunity to give the gift of life is something that I never thought I would have. Now that I do, I feel like I'm the lucky one,” Johnson said.
Johnson is spending the entire weekend in Charlotte with Justin and his family before heading home to Florida.
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