Strong bond formed af­ter do­na­tion saves man’s life

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS - By Janessa Ek­ert – Daily Mer­cury

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.

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