The hug that says: thank you for saving my life. . .
AMAZING MOMENT WHEN A DAD MEETS STEM CELL DONOR WHOSE KINDNESS MEANS HE CAN SEE HIS SON GROW UP
THIS is the tear-jerking moment a dad shares a hug with the woman who saved his life.
James O’Donnell, from Burnage, feared the worst after being diagnosed with a blood disorder similar to leukaemia in 2016.
Usual treatments were failing and James was undergoing a blood transfusion every week while battling constant infections.
James was running out of options and despaired at the pain his death could cause his eight-year-old son, Harrison.
But in a stunning stroke of fortune, his saviour was only 30 miles away.
Leah McDougall, from Liverpool, had registered as a potential stem cell donor on her lunch break at a pop-up stall, organised by blood cancer charity DKSM.
James told staff at the charity that he would be up for meeting his donor, who could have been anyone from a number of European countries using the register. James, along with his wife Andrea and young Harrison, got the chance to meet Leah for the first time at a DKSM charity gala in London.
James, who says he finally feels like himself after a long period of illness, said: “I was just getting chest infections and water infections all the time.
“I am quite a healthy person, and I was in good shape and I knew I should not be getting ill all the time.”
He said after a few weeks of tests his was invited to take a bone marrow biopsy and was told the devastating news on his 40th birthday.
The disease meant James’ bone marrow was not producing enough white blood cells, but doctors told him a treatment called anti-thymocite globulin (ATG) had a ‘75 per cent chance’ of success.
However, when that failed, fear and doubt began to creep in.
He said: “We are always saying I would get through this, we were thinking I would get better.
“But I started to think it’s not happening, it’s not going to be for me, this.
“I thought, I have been good in life, I need some luck. We were having a really hard time. “My son was four or five then, and it was hard for him having a dad going from playing football with him to being in hospital.” Eventually, doctors revealed the only option was for James to have a bone marrow transplant.
The O’Donnells went through further disappointment when tests on his three
Stem-cell transplant patientJames O’Donnell
James and Leah during their emotional meeting