Young Rory Meets His Lifesaver in New York After Recovering From Stem Cell Transplant

October 20, 2017
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A thirteen-year-old from Edinburgh has met the stranger who donated bone marrow – two years after battling back to health after a stem cell transplant. 

Rory was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, a rare form of blood cancer, in 2014. Rory’s best chance of a cure was a bone marrow transplant which involved eradicating his diseased cells with chemotherapy and replacing them with cells from a stranger. 

Last Saturday, World Marrow Donor Day, Rory met the stranger who saved his life: 28-year old Christopher Mattson from Pennsylvania. Rory and his family flew to New York to meet Christopher, who joined the Gift of Life Marrow Registry in America.

Rory says, "It was great to meet Chris. He was nervous too, and found it as surreal as me. We shared a few jokes together. I am looking forward to finding out all about him."

Christopher says: “I acted on impulse when I stopped by a Gift of Life swabbing table and I’m so glad that I did. I encourage everyone out there to visit Gift of Life’s website to learn more about the process and how simple it is to join the registry.”

Rory’s mum, Jenny says: "I feel delighted to have met this wonderful man who has given Rory a second chance of life. He looks so healthy and well, it's wonderful to think his cells are what gave Rory this new start. I thought I would feel tearful but I just felt happy and so lucky that someone we have never met gave my son such an amazing gift, and I want to tell everyone we meet that this man saved my son! I think he should shout it from the rooftops”

“Our trip to New York to meet Rory's donor was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we feel very lucky to have met Chris in such an iconic location, and to have been able to thank him in person for saving our son's life.

“It's hard to put into words our gratitude. Stem cell donors can change everything, and we are so grateful to them, and the charities that find them, including Anthony Nolan and Gift of Life. They gave us the the gift of hearing those vital words, ‘there is no evidence of disease’, and that is something worth more than every diamond in every jeweller in Manhattan."

As a UK charity which finds and matches donors, of the correct tissue types, with patients who need stem cell transplants, Anthony Nolan cures blood cancer: giving patients a second chance of life. 

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan says: “This Blood Cancer Awareness Month we are celebrating transplant patients who are flourishing – and inspiring more people to join our stem cell register.

This will help Anthony Nolan give a second chance of life to everyone that needs one, and ensure they have the support they need to thrive.”

To join the Anthony Nolan stem cell register, visit