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Bone Marrow Donor and Recipient Meet for the First Time

May 21, 2014

bone-marrow

Celebrating at the twelfth annual Celebration of Life Dinner are bone marrow recipient William Carter (middle row, seated, left) and his donor Frank Matthes (middle row, seated, right) who flew in from Germany for this special occasion.

In a heartwarming meeting, William Carter, 69, of Wading River, NY, finally had the chance to personally thank Frank Matthes, 47, of Bretten, Germany, for the bone marrow that helped Mr. Carter survive his ongoing battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).

The two have been communicating via email since the successful bone marrow transplant at North Shore University Hospital in the winter of 2009, but had never set eyes on each other.

Mr. Carter, a retired insurance salesman, says he was frightened when he learned he had AML, characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells that accumulate in the bone marrow and interfere with the production of normal blood cells.

”I felt very tired, and I knew that something was wrong. I have so much to live for…my wife, Dot, who is my rock, wonderful children and grandchildren. I have so many reasons to live,” he said.

“Bill is such a kind man with a wonderful family,” said Ruthee-Lu Bayer, MD, his physician. “It’s always such a thrill for us to see how a bone marrow transplant can give a person a second chance at life.”

Mr. Matthes said that he was thrilled to make the journey to the United States to finally meet the man whose life he saved.

“It is so wonderful for me to finally meet Bill and his family,” he said. “It was such an easy process…just a cheek swab…and now we finally get to meet. We are connected for life now.”

The reunion took place at the twelfth annual Celebration of Life Dinner of NSUH’s Don Monti Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation Program, held at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. The event is a highlight for bone marrow donors and recipients, family members, healthcare professionals and supporters.

In June 1972, 16-year-old Don Monti died at North Shore University Hospital of myeloblastic leukemia. Within days of his death, his parents, Tita and Joseph Monti, committed themselves to founding an organization in his memory, dedicated to the mission of finding a cure for cancer. They established the Don Monti Memorial Research Foundation at the hospital, and raised and contributed tens of millions of dollars over the years toward cancer research, education, fellowship and patient care. Today, the program is under the stewardship of Caroline Monti Saladino, whose parents began this vital work so many years ago.

“We have the same bone marrow now, which means we are connected in a very special way,” is how Mr. Carter summed up the importance of the event. “I hope everyone hears this story and understands what it means to be able to save a life.”

To view a video of this event click here.

  • Media Contacts:

    Michelle Pinto, Director, Media Relations
    (516) 465-2649
    mpinto@nshs.edu
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