Pensioner travels over 2,000 miles to meet stranger who saved his life with stem cell donation

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

This is the heart-warming moment a pensioner personally thanked the mum who saved his life with her anonymous stem cell donation – after a 2,300-mile journey.

Siegfried “Siggi” Wahl, 71, finally met his genetic “twin” Jackie Wray, 50, in North Yorkshire in September after the pair spent more than three years communicating anonymously due to laws around stem cell donations.

Wahl, from Hattersheim in Germany, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in April 2015 after he suffered a stroke and doctors found the cancer when he was hospitalised.

After initial treatment proved unsuccessful, doctors told Wahl his best chance of survival was a blood stem cell donation from a person with identical tissue type.

Siegfried ‘Siggi’ Wahl had an emotional meeting with stem cell donator Jackie Wray (Caters)

Unfortunately nobody in his immediate family proved to be a match, so he then had to turn to the worldwide register to find a stranger willing to help.

Luckily, just six months earlier, his genetic “twin” Wray had signed up with blood cancer charity DKMS in 2015 after seeing a TV appeal for a child in urgent need of a donor.

Moving video captures the moment Wahl met his “angel” Wray at her restaurant and bar in Great Ayton, near Middlesbrough, for the first time.

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Wray said: “Before we met, I had no idea what Siggi looked like or how old he was – it was very difficult when we could only write to each other and I burst into tears every time I read his cards.

“When he arrived, there were lots of tears and lots of cuddling – Siggi and his wife had made me a photo album with pictures of him during his treatment which just made me cry instantly.

“They also bought me a little angel necklace because they say I’m his angel and it was just so lovely, I will treasure it forever.”

Siggi had to turn to the worldwide register to find a stranger willing to help him (Caters)

Dad-of-two Wahl added: “After the many cards we exchanged anonymously, I felt that Jackie has a heart.

“She wanted to save people's lives, and such a person deserves a personal thank you, with a big hug, and of course with a lot of tears.

“Neither of us could let go when we hugged – for me, she is my angel that saved my life.”

Mum-of-two Jackie is planning her second meeting with Siggi in Germany for his birthday in January (Caters)

Wray is now calling for others to sign up to become a donor with DKMS to help change people’s lives.

The mum-of-two is planning her second meeting with Siggi in Germany for his birthday in January and is looking forward to meeting the rest of his family.

UK law states that while donors and their patients can communicate following a transplant, they must do so anonymously for at least the first two years.

After this, if both parties are in agreement, their identities can be revealed and they can make arrangements to meet.

Click here for more details on how to become a potential stem cell donor.