Strong bond formed after donation saves man’s life
TWO strangers have formed an everlasting bond after one helped to save the other’s life through the gift of donation.
Airlie Beach man Andrew Dobbins donated his stem cells to Michael Ohler, an American who was diagnosed with leukaemia.
The gift changed Michael’s life, although Andrew still says it was nothing more than a few needles and a few hours of his time.
While newlywed Andrew was honeymooning in the US he and his wife were able to meet Michael in person for the first time.
The meeting was emotional but as a result, these two strangers are now family.
In fact, the first peson Andrew saw after arriving in LA for his honeymoon was the man whose life he helped to save.
Andrew said he was jet lagged and stiff from the 13-hour flight on July 22 when this big man came barrelling up and hugged him.
American Michael Ohler’s life, and the lives of his friends and family, was changed when the bone marrow registry came back with a match in Andrew in 2007.
Michael had been diagnosed with a type of leukaemia.
He and Andrew had been in touch over social media for a number of years. When Andrew was planning his honeymoon to the US, he realised how close he and new bride Noella would be to where Michael lived.
“He got quite excited and insisted we stay there the entire weekend,” Andrew laughed.
Little did Andrew know his wife had secretly organised for Michael to meet them at the LA airport.
Noella, 38, said the first meeting was “amazing”. “I cried,” she said. “This is someone who’s definitely family now... and is definitely going to be a big part of our lives.”
The newlyweds spent a weekend with Michael and his family and met many of their friends.
“I got lots and lots of hugs,” Andrew said.
“It was pretty emotional for everyone... it was overwhelming.”
Andrew said it hadn’t really hit him until he met everyone exactly what his simple and selfless gesture had done for this family.
Michael had also contacted a few of his local news organisations and Andrew was interviewed about his act of kindness.
“Just to get the word out there for more people to donate,” he said.
Andrew had started donating blood in about 2002 and at the same time signed up for the bone marrow registry.
To Andrew it was “just a few needles” and being “hooked up to a machine for five hours”, but to Michael it was everything.
LIFE SAVING GIFT: Stem cell recipient Michael Ohler with the man who made the life saving donation, Andrew Dobbins.