A SOLIHULL stem cell donor hero met his perfect match after he saved their life three years earlier.
In a heartfelt meeting in Florida Paul Matthew, from Hillfields in Solihull, met Jeff Tomczak, the man who had received his stem cells via a transplant three and a half years earlier following a blood cancer diagnosis.
It was a key moment in a life-changing journey that began, when Paul – a regular blood donor – picked up a leaflet from blood cancer charity DKMS, and signed up with them as a stem cell donor.
A few months later the 51-year-old got an email from the charity saying he was one of several possible matches for someone needing a transplant.
Following a number of tests at the hospital and after the charity had done its checks Paul was told he was the best match for the intended recipient – a ten out of ten match.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, DKMS arranged for Paul to London for further tests and again to donate.
Paul said: “I was in the hospital for about six hours in bed having my stem cells taken – it’s very simple. I had my tablet with me to watch films, and I was very well looked after with food and drinks.
“At the end of the day they had gathered enough of my stem cells, and I was able to go straight home. At this point they were able to tell me that my recipient was male, in his 40s and living in the US. I just couldn’t have lived with myself, if I hadn’t helped.”
A year later Paul sent his donor an anonymised email via DKMS, wishing him well and he was delighted to receive a reply.
Last June they were able to swap contact details and they became friends on Facebook and got to know each other.
He found out Jeff, who lives in Wisconsin, is married to Belinda and and works for a science and innovation company.
Jeff said: “It was a blessing to be able to thank my donor in person, but it is really difficult to find words to show my appreciation.
“Not only did Paul save my life, he saved someone’s father, husband, son, brother, and friend.
“My family and I are forever grateful. Balinda and I enjoyed our time with Paul, Louise, and their son Josh.
“Thankfully there are so many good people, like Paul, on the bone marrow registry. Unfortunately, there is not a perfect match available to everyone in need. “Together, we can raise awareness about the simplicity of joining the registry, and the donation process as well.”
DKMS spokesperson Deborah Hyde said: “We’re so grateful to everyone who supports DKMS’s mission to delete blood cancer.
“Paul is an inspirational example of how becoming a stem cell donor can give people needing a transplant a second chance at life.”
Find out more about becoming a stem cell donor or to make a donation click here.