Man meets Boise donor who saved his life

Posted at 12:20 AM, Mar 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-26 02:21:21-04

One Boise man had a life-changing experience today at the Treefort Music Festival, getting the chance to meet the man whose life he changed forever.

An unlikely event took center stage.

Amid the massive crowds of music lovers, two men, a stem cell donor and its recipient meeting for the first time.

Their unusual story begins at the very same festival four years earlier when Glenn Thornton swabbed his cheek at a Treefort booth. 

He had no idea he would be saving someone's life. 

Like most people, he forgot all about the swab. Then Christmas of 2016 he got a call saying he was a match for a 59-year-old Indiana man.

"So when I got that call I immediately wanted to do it," said Thornton. 

After a rough year, Thornton knew instantly it was a sign from above.  

"I guess June 9th, 2016 my son, Errol was killed in an accident," said Thornton.

Months later Thornton would be giving someone else a second chance at life. 

"We were a perfect match," said Irwin. 

The recipient, Todd Irwin said after being diagnosed with cancer for the second time in two years, his fight to live grew stronger.  

"How can I fight? How can I survive? Because I have such a wonderful family, I didn't want to miss out on anything," said Irwin.

Then on January 5, 2017, he received stem cells from Thornton, the procedure gave both men a new outlook on life. 

"It was surreal," said Irwin.

"He has healed me, and he has healed the broken heart that I had after my son had died," said Thornton. 

Irwin instantly wanted to thank Thornton but says he had to wait a year to find out who saved his life.

"It has just turned into something bigger than Todd and myself."

Now the pair hopes to turn their story into a book and a documentary to encourage others to join the registry and potentially save lives.

If you would like to be a donor head on over to DKMS.ORG