November 4, 2010
Pete Herting and his wife Christine, Oakdale, New York residents, flew to Longview to meet Del Covington, the East Texan to whom Pete gave “the gift of life” in 2008. Covington owes his life to Herting, a New York City firefighter. Covington was the associate pastor at the First United Methodist Church of Hallsville in 2005, when he was diagnosed with aplastic anemia.

After treatment, he went into remission, but the disease returned in the fall of 2007. It was at that time his doctors informed him that his best chance for survival was a stem cell transplant.

At that point, a search of donor registries was begun. Del needed a “perfect match”…matching the human leukocyte antigens (HLA) in his blood cells to those of a donor…a stranger who might be listed on the registry of potential donors.

Pete Herting joined the registry for marrow and stem cell donors (now known as Be The Match Registry) along with his classmates at the firefighting academy in 2000. The two men became “blood brothers” when Pete donated stem cells to Del.

“I know it helped Del out, but it wasn’t a big thing for me,” Herting said. “I did what I had to do. It was an easy decision.” Herting said anyone of the firefighters at his station would do the same thing because it was the right thing to do.

Covington stood in front of about 120 banquet guests waiting to meet the donor who saved his life. Herting, dressed in his FDNY dress uniform, walked into the room and cut through the crowd of standing supporters to embrace the man whose life he saved. It was an emotional scene for all who witnessed this first meeting of the two “blood brothers.”

Donor Pete Herting and Recipient Del Covington