STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Ashland cancer survivor meets stem cell donor for the first time

Ashland man Richard Pepper is alive today because of a stem cell transplant. Thursday night, he flew to LA to meet his donor, Jay Matthew of New Jersey, for the very first time.

Posted: Aug 20, 2019 11:46 AM

ASHLAND, Ore. -- Ashland man Richard Pepper is alive today because of a stem cell transplant. Thursday night, he flew to LA to meet his donor, Jay Matthew of New Jersey, for the very first time.

Pepper was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), an aggressive form of blood cancer.

"I took the diagnosis very calmly. I said 'if it's my time to go, it's my time to go.' But I prayed that I'd be around because I think I still have some good to do on this Earth so I wanted to be here a little longer," Pepper said. "I could either get the treatments or die in 6 weeks. It was a no brainer."

He needed a stem cell transplant but first he needed a donor. And he needed a donor soon. 

The Director of Development for Gift of Life Marrow Registry Robyn Malek said donating stem cells has a stigma and has even been dramatized. People are usually concerned that it is an invasive process. She said now it's about as easy as donating blood. If more people are able to join the registry, more recipients can be saved faster. Malek said one in 200 Americans will be diagnosed with a blood cancer. People of color are less likely to find a match in the registry.

"The whole thing with getting the stem cells to the recipient is all about timing," Malek added. "The longer the patient has to search, the longer the patient has to wait for getting the stem cells. It's life-threatening. It's life or death."

Thanks to the organization, Pepper was able to find a perfect match all the way in New Jersey.

"It was something that required very little effort. It had such a big difference and potentially save somebody's life," said donor Jay Matthew.

"It restores your faith in humanity that there are people out there that will take the time to do this knowing that it can help somebody stay alive. It's a special thing," Pepper added.

Thursday marked one year, nine months and 15 days after Pepper got the transplant. It now marks the day he met Matthew for the first time.

"I can't thank him enough," Pepper said. "I'm elated and overjoyed. I've got part of him in me and there's a bond just by that."

Once Pepper hits the two year mark, he'll need to get more immunizations and he'll be able to go outside more and live life a little bit more. He and his wife plan to travel. He'd like to be able to return the favor for other people but he's not sure he can. As for Matthew, he said he'd happily donate again.

"It was so easy and it could have a big impact on someone's life, literally," Matthew added.

"I would tell people if they're ever diagnosed with this disease, don't give up," Pepper added.

If you'd like to figure out how you can join a registry to see if you are somone's match, head here

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 12438

Reported Deaths: 237
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah296672
Marion189354
Washington189221
Umatilla10418
Clackamas100628
Malheur4002
Union3692
Lincoln3615
Lane3093
Deschutes2680
Yamhill2059
Linn18210
Jackson1810
Polk17912
Jefferson1680
Morrow1541
Klamath1381
Wasco1171
Benton1156
Hood River1060
Douglas640
Josephine571
Clatsop550
Columbia540
Coos540
Lake240
Crook181
Tillamook160
Wallowa150
Baker120
Curry90
Sherman50
Gilliam20
Harney20
Grant10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 333357

Reported Deaths: 7089
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1363573824
Riverside25748550
Orange25255424
San Diego19929422
San Bernardino19502307
Fresno828288
Imperial7977136
Alameda7976148
San Joaquin698870
Kern660198
Santa Clara6542167
Tulare5942152
Sacramento571483
Stanislaus497351
Contra Costa485290
San Francisco459050
Ventura424653
San Mateo4045112
Santa Barbara393131
Marin370232
Kings297039
Monterey279018
Solano207528
Merced188412
Sonoma181916
Placer111411
San Luis Obispo10065
Yolo92928
Madera8938
Santa Cruz5693
Napa5184
Lassen4280
Sutter4034
San Benito3622
Butte3384
El Dorado3070
Shasta2006
Yuba1983
Glenn1760
Humboldt1654
Nevada1631
Mendocino1320
Lake1211
Colusa1130
Tehama1071
Tuolumne730
Calaveras670
Del Norte610
Mono521
Siskiyou410
Amador400
Inyo351
Mariposa321
Plumas190
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
93° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 93°
Brookings
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 86°
Crater Lake
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 86°
Grants Pass
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 90°
Klamath Falls
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 86°
Sunny and hotter Tuesday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events

Latest Video

Image

Tuesday, July 14 afternoon weather

Image

Volunteers saddened by death of Medford homeless man

Image

Tuesday, July 14 morning weather

Image

Rogue CC postpones fall sports to spring

Image

Monday, July 13th Evening Weather

Image

Rogue Retreat speaks out after homeless man killed in stabbing

Image

California Governor rolls back reopening throughout the state

Image

Rogues fall to Seals in Sunday afternoon pitching duel

Image

Monday, July 13 afternoon weather

Image

Reality Tease