5-year-old suffering from rare disease reunites with FDNY firefighter who donated lifesaving marrow

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Wednesday, October 18, 2023
5-year-old suffering from rare disease meets with lifesaving donor
A 5-year-old boy received a lifesaving marrow donation from a member of the FDNY. On Wednesday, the two met for the first time. Lauren Glassberg has the latest.

Cristiano Grigoli wasn't always able to act like a little kid.

"He couldn't play in dirt, he couldn't play in leaves, he couldn't play in water that wasn't chlorinated," said Tiffany Hazlewood, Frigoli's mother. "He couldn't be in daycare."

As it turns out, the 5-year-old was born with a rare disease called chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), which didn't allow his body to fight infections. The only cure is a bone marrow transplant.

On Wednesday, the little boy from Texas got to meet the man who donated that lifesaving marrow, New York firefighter Ryan McLean.

It was a joyous moment more than a year in the making, filled with hugs and hope.

"Thanks to Ryan, now Cristiano gets to grow up and be a normal boy and have a normal life," said Hazlewood. "He has a future, he has no limitations now. The sky is the limit for him, he's got a whole new life."

Ryan, like so many FDNY members, donated blood to the New York Blood Center and signed up for the 'Be the Match' registry when he was in the academy. Five years later, he learned he was a match.

"I'm overwhelmed," said McLean of Engine 255. "He's such an amazing kid. The fact that I was able to do something that contributed to him having a long and healthy life is unbelievable."

Even Cristiano understands Mclean's good deed.

"Gave me new blood," he said.

Text FDNY to 61474 or visit https://my.bethematch.org/FDNY to register online and have a cheek swab kit mailed to your home.


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