Man who donated bone marrow meets woman whose life he saved 20 years ago - The Leamington Observer

Man who donated bone marrow meets woman whose life he saved 20 years ago

Leamington Editorial 5th Feb, 2018   0

IT was an emotional moment for Steve Carr when he met the woman whose life he saved 20 years ago for the first time.

The Leamington resident, then 35-years-old and expecting his first child, received a letter from blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan telling him he could be a match for a patient in desperate need. He travelled to London in February 1998 and donated bone marrow.

Over the next two years the telecom engineer received four updates about how the person he had donated to was doing. Due to anonymity rules, patients and donors cannot learn each others’ identities for two years after the transplant but Steve heard nothing more.

Steve, now 54, said: “My son, Luke, was born a few months after I donated. When he turned 18 I started thinking about the year he was born. I wondered about the person I donated bone marrow to all those years ago – significant birthdays do that, I suppose!

“I had been on the register for three or four years when I received a letter which informed me that I could be a match for a patient in need.

“I was given a few injections and donated bone marrow under general anaesthetic.

“I wasn’t told anything about the person I was donating to but, as I was being discharged from the hospital I saw a courier for Air Canada. So I wondered if I had donated to a Canadian.

“I was back at work within five days. I was sore afterwards, but knowing I was doing this for somebody who must have been incredibly unwell was worth it.”

Forty-four-year-old French speaker Marie-Sophie Thibeault was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia when she was 23. Neither her brother or sister were a match and, after 500 people were tested from in and around Quebec, an international search was made.

Anthony Nolan found Marie-Sophie a match and, 19 years after her lifesaving stem cell transplant, she wrote to a Canadian TV show asking for help to identify her donor – so she could finally thank them.

After contacting the Canadian stem cell registry, the team confirmed her donor was found by Anthony Nolan, the world’s first stem cell register.

The TV station contacted Anthony Nolan to see whether Marie-Sophie’s donor could be traced after 20 years. Luckily, Steve had updated his details with Anthony Nolan, so Marie-Sophie travelled to the UK to meet the person who made her recovery possible.

Father-of-two Steve said: “When I received a call from the team at Anthony Nolan letting me know Marie-Sophie wanted to get in touch I was really happy that she was alive.

“I was shocked at how emotional meeting Marie-Sophie was. It was a great experience, to see and hear the difference that couple of days in London made to someone who lives thousands of miles away. It makes it all worthwhile.

“You join the register with the best intentions and then wait. Twenty years later I spent an hour-and-a-half chatting and had dinner with the person I donated to.”

Marie Sophie described her meeting with Steve as a dream come true.

“I felt incredibly privileged to be able to finally express immeasurable gratitude to the person who donated so generously in 1998.

“It was beyond my expectations! The reunion with Steve was a gift and is the ultimate step in my healing journey.”

“I’m also very thankful to Anthony Nolan for making the meeting with Steve happen – he is precious to my heart.”

Henny Braund, chief executive of Anthony Nolan, was delighted to see the pair meet.

He said: “Almost 20 years after Steve’s selfless donation gave Marie Sophie a second chance of life, it’s wonderful to see them finally meet.

“Last year Anthony Nolan helped more than 1,300 people who needed a stem cell transplant from a stranger and, as Steve and Marie Sophie’s heart-warming story shows, the difference donation can make is truly amazing.”

Steve and Marie Sophie have been using online translators to keep in touch via email.

Visit for more information about Anthony Nolan.

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