Good Morning America highlights Odessa firefighter's life-saving bone marrow donation

Good Morning America highlights Odessa firefighter’s life-saving donation

“I don’t feel like a hero,” said Ben Denny. “I feel like anyone else would have done it.”

While Denny serves as a firefighter for the City of Odessa, Good Morning America recently recognized him for a heroic act that occurred when he wasn’t in uniform. In 2021, Denny, who had signed up for the Be The Match bone marrow donor registry, learned he was among 50 people identifed as a match with a 10-year-old boy from Lafayette, Louisiana, who was battling leukemia.

That boy, Camden Barnard, had been fighting cancer since he was 8 years old. Chemotherapy was the hardest part of the illness, Camden said.

“I probably would have done it for anybody,” Denny told Good Morning America. “A 10 year old boy, I’m going to do whatever I can to help him.”

The bone marrow transplant ended up being successful.

“Go away, now I’m done with you,” Camden told his cancer. “Now I get to do whatever I want.”

Camden’s father, Pat Barnard, said recipients of bone marrow transplants must wait at least a year to even reach out to see if one can find the donor. In October 2022, Pat published a post on Facebook expressing his gratitude, saying in part, “whoever you are & wherever you are. THANK YOU.”

Denny’s wife, Arlene, saw the post, and then Denny messaged Pat.

On Feb. 10, 2023, Good Morning America was there to see Camden meet Denny for the first time in Lafayette. The following day, they rode together on a float at the Carencro Mardi Gras Parade.

“What makes America great is we’re willing to help our neighbors, even if we don’t know them.”

Pat hopes the national news story will encourage more people to become potentially life-saving donors.

Despite saving a child’s life, Denny declines to accept the hero status.

“What makes America great is we’re willing to help our neighbors, even if we don’t know them,” he said.

And while Denny is the firefighter, he described Camden as among the bravest.

“Cam’s little like saying through the whole process was, choose joy,” Denny said. “If Cam can choose joy through that, I have to choose joy every day with the little things that go on in my life that get me down. There’s no option with that.”

Ben and Arlene Denny. (Photo courtesy of the City of Odessa)