“He had every reason to be angry with me, given where he is and the sentence he was given.”
Carl Fox, a North Carolina Supreme Court judge, was diagnosed in April with myelodysplastic syndrome, a condition where stem cells in the bone marrow don’t mature properly. In less medical terms, he was diagnosed with blood cancer—and need a bone marrow transplant.
Fox said, “I just remember thinking, ‘Why me?’ Sometimes, when I was by myself, I’d just curl up and cry.”
Instead of wallowing, Fox, 61, decided he was going to make a proactive effort to help others with the same condition while trying to find a matching donor. He turned his cancer battle into a public issue in hopes of boosting awareness for bone marrow donation.
In his search for a donor, he never expected that his call for help would reach a convict that he himself put in prison years ago.
Charles Alston, 62, wrote a heartbreaking letter to the judge offering him his own bone marrow. Fox sentenced Alston to 25 years in prison for armed robbery.
Alston wrote, “You were the District Attorney during the course of my trial. There is no hatred or animosity in my heart towards you. […] I know you are in need of a matching donor for bone marrow. I may or may not be a match, but would have been willing to make the sacrifice if needed.”
Unfortunately, despite the incredibly kind offer, inmates are banned from being on the bone marrow registry. Even so, Fox was overcome with emotion after reading the letter.
Fox said, “I was very touched by it […] totally surprised. I never thought Charles Alston would’ve written to me and offered me the right hand of fellowship and offer to do something to save me life. He had every reason to be angry with me, given where he is and the sentence he was given. It means even that much more he did that given the circumstances.”
Alston, who gave an interview himself after the letter made headlines, said that though he originally felt negatively towards Fox, his sentiments changed: “I had a lot of hate for Mr. Fox because he sentenced me to so much time, but I come to church a lot. I found God. So, I thought maybe if I could do something [good] for someone else, I’d do it.”
Fox has been working regularly with his court schedule and receiving chemotherapy treatments at the same time.
His girlfriend, Julie Smith, said that Fox has a “fantastic attitude” despite the slim odds he’s facing: “Like most things in life, it’s what you make out of it that has the biggest impact, and I think Carl is doing his best every day to make this as positive as it can be.”