Deborah Ochetti’s journey to receiving this year’s Humanitarian of the Year Award from the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) began years ago.
The Burnsville, MN, letter carrier, who was honored this month, donated stem cells to help in a cancer patient’s treatment.
Ochetti underwent testing in 2011 to see if she was a match for a family that needed a bone marrow donor. She wasn’t a match, but she was added to a national bone marrow registry.
For years, Ochetti wondered if she’d ever become a match for someone.
Then in 2015, she learned a woman with leukemia needed her.
After a three-month evaluation, Ochetti was asked if she was sure she wanted to continue with a donation.
“For me, there was no question,” she said.
Ochetti’s procedure involved her receiving injections to stimulate her bone marrow to release stem cells, which were then extracted from her blood.
The NALC’s judging panel called Ochetti’s actions “selfless” and praised her willingness to help someone she didn’t know.
“She wasn’t a match the first time, but she still gave a donation to a stranger, even though it wasn’t her original plan,” the judges wrote.
The letter carrier, who missed only two days of work following the procedure, said she never sought accolades for her generosity.
“If one person can hear my story and possibly save another life, well, job well done,” Ochetti said.