A 34-year-old woman, from Lichfield, Staffs, was given only months to live before a stranger stepped in and saved her life.
Jo Kelly was diagnosed with blood cancer Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2007 when she was just 22.
Cancer spread to her lungs and bones and she was told she would live only a few months.
Jo’s boyfriend at the time, Pete Ames, burst into tears after the doctors announced her cancer was terminal as he said he didn’t want Jo to leave the world not being his wife.
Pete asked her to marry him by decorating his house with fairy lights and writing, “I love you” on the walls in 25 different languages.
Jo said, “YES”, and they started planning their wedding.
Jo said: “I had an IV drip taped to the underside of my arm, but it was an incredible day.”
Days before the wedding, blood disease charity Anthony Nolan found only one donor with a matching tissue type for a stem-cell transplant.
That person was Stefan Berens from Bielefeld, northwest Germany.
Jo said: “We were terrified he might not want to go through with it, but everything fell into place.”
“I knew if I chose, I could pass away quietly. But I had to keep trying for Pete and my parents.”
In 2012, Jo had her transplant after Stefan traveled from Hamburg to Berlin to donate.
Jo wrote a thank you letter to Stefan after recovering but never got a reply and thought it was delivered to an old address.
After two years, when Jo decided to have a baby with her husband Pete via IVF as she was left infertile by the chemotherapy, an embryo made using Pete’s sperm and a donor egg was implanted in Jo’s womb.
Last year, Jo gave birth to Phoebe who has now turned one.
Jo said: “I still marvel at the fact this little soul wasn’t really meant to exist, yet she is so special. Having Phoebe felt like such a big moment, I had to try to tell my donor. I’m so glad I did.”
Jo again decided to meet Stefan and when they finally met, Jo hugged Stefan for saving her life and for giving her a chance to have a baby.
She introduced Phoebe to Stefan.
Stefan then revealed he wrote a letter to her after getting her ‘thank you’ letter and said it’s heartbreaking Jo didn’t receive it.
When he was asked about donating for Jo, he said: “My question was never, ‘Should I do this?’. It was, ‘How do I help?’.”
“I was very nervous about meeting Jo, but it felt so natural. There was a unique bond between us. Meeting Phoebe was the cherry on top, realising she wouldn’t exist without me. I am so happy for them”, he added.
Jo described meeting Stefan as ‘one of the best experiences of my life’ and felt like meeting a long-lost family.
Stefan called her his blood sister and she felt the same way.
She said: “Introducing him to Phoebe was like showing him the ultimate symbol of my recovery. If it wasn’t for him, she wouldn’t be here. I can feel myself getting tearful when I say that.”
Recommended Video For You!
“Toddler hugs stranger after recognizing they both have limb differences”