Local cancer survivor meets, thanks bone marrow donor who helped save his life

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A college student who grew up in Bakersfield was able to thank the donor he’s never met for saving his life during City of Hope’s 45th Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion.

Julian Castañeda was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 10, but after receiving chemotherapy for a few years, his leukemia went into remission. But the cancer returned in March 2017 and he would need a bone marrow transplant to put his cancer back into remission.

“They said he was better off getting the transpant instead of doing that chemo again. So I thought about it and I said, well if that’s what’s best for him then I guess we’ll have to go with that,” Julian’s mother, Erica Palacios said.

And that person was 27-year-old Johannes Eppler of Germany, who had joined the bone marrow registry.

Castañeda received the bone marrow transplant in August 2017 and the it put his cancer back in remission. He was able to virtually thank Eppler.

“Thank you so much for everything … You know, I really appreciate you doing all this for us, for me. I really wouldn’t be here without you, so thank you so much,” Castañeda said.

Castañeda is now 20 and a junior a Cal State Northridge.

He also founded Bags of Love Foundation — a non-profit that has delivered more than 200 care packages to young cancer patients in treatment. The foundation has also given $11,000 in scholarships to survivors.

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