BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Good Morning America's Robin Roberts inspired people across the nation by going public with her bone marrow transplant. She is recovering now, thanks to her sister Sally Ann who was her bone marrow donor.
The Roberts sisters story hit extra close to home at Channel 7 in Buffalo. Frank Pacella is the producer of AM Buffalo, and at the same time Robin was dealing with her health crisis, Frank's older brother Sam was diagnosed with leukemia. Just like Robin, Sam also needed a bone marrow transplant.
"My brother told me he had this cancer, the leukemia, and there was only one chance for him and that was to get a donor, and the best donor would be the source of a younger brother," explains Frank Pacella.
In some ways, Sam and Frank couldn't be more different. They're oldest and youngest of five siblings, separated by 20 years. As a boy, Frank looked up to Sam. Watch the video to see a picture of four-year-old Frank wearing Sam's hat on the day his hero, Sam, left to serve in the military.
But, all these years later it was Sam looking to Frank for a hero.
"My brother Frank, he's been very courageous and kind," says Sam from his hospital room.
Frank was a one-in-four chance of being a match and he not only wanted to be tested to help Sam, but because of another brother -- Anthony -- who lost his battle with Lou Gehrig's disease a few years ago.
"All we could do was watch him deteriorate over the years and that was very hard to take as siblings and as a family," says Frank, "Now my brother (Sam) has this potentially fatal illness and there's a chance for him, and I was his chance."
Good news came out of the testing. Frank is indeed a match, and so the transplant process began. Frank took time off from A.M. Buffalo, and his family gathered for support at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
"I think Frank will look back in the next year or so and see that he's really made a difference in his brother's life," says Nancy Magno, Frank and Sam's sister.
As for Sam, he has more time to go in the hospital before we know if the transplant is a success, but he already has a whole new appreciation for his baby brother.
"There was a purpose, and everything has come full circle. The purpose is, he's saving my life," says a teary-eyed Sam.
Not everyone who needs a donor has a sibling who is a match... And that's why there is a national bone marrow donor registry: http://marrow.org/Home.aspx
Sam is not out of the woods yet. Channel 7 is going to check back in on his recovery and let you know how he's doing in a couple of weeks.