One of the people who testified at his early release hearing was Robinson. "I have had several opportunities to talk to [Guglielmo] and have been very impressed with the devotion to his son," Robinson wrote in a letter to the board. "[I] truly believe Michael is rehabilitated."

Guglielmo and Poulicakos split a year ago, though the two still speak daily. "Everything between us eventually calmed down, but we were really nasty to each other when we started going through everything with our son," says Poulicakos. "We're both very hot-tempered, but I was also his first girlfriend when he got out of jail."

A cord-blood match was found for Giovanni in May 2007. Even so, his health is still in constant flux. One day he's playing Captain America in full costume, noshing on Doritos, his favorite snack. The next morning he's vomiting uncontrollably, surviving solely off intravenous supplements.

With help from the ACLU, Guglielmo is currently suing Giovanni's school in New Hampshire, challenging a policy that bars felons from any sort of class participation. Guglielmo seeks a waiver so that he can volunteer; Giovanni's long-time school caregiver just fell sick with cancer, and Guglielmo wants to take her place. But so far the school board won't buckle.

Neither will Guglielmo.

"I think about pain a lot in my bone-marrow work, since everyone always wants to know how much it hurts to donate," says Guglielmo. "Trust me — I know pain. Every kind of it. Or at least I thought I did. You know what's really painful, though? Dying. There are people who are dying because they need transplants. How the hell do you think that feels?"

Follow Chris Faraone on Twitter @fara1.

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