A transplant survivor has honoured a promise he made to his bone marrow donor nearly 25 years ago, by inviting his lifesaver to see him walk his daughter down the aisle.
Sales manager, Ian Brown, 59, saved Rick Haines’ life by donating bone marrow to him in 1991.
Thanks to Ian’s donation, over two decades later, Rick will be able to accompany his daughter, Marissa, who is now 27, down the aisle when she gets married in America in May.
Ian (left) pictured with Rick and his wife Mary
Ian, from Morpeth in Northumberland, explained: “Before his bone marrow transplant, Rick had little chance of survival and his greatest sorrow was that he would never have the opportunity to walk his little girl – who was four at the time - down the aisle.
“He asked me many years ago as to how he could ever repay me for donating the bone marrow that saved his life, and my answer was to let me see that very thing happen.
“Now, due to him receiving the bone marrow transplant, my new wife and I will be at the wedding in the USA to watch him do just that as his daughter, Marissa, gets married. My wife and I will actually be on our own honeymoon at the time, which will make it even more special.”
Ian joined the Anthony Nolan register in the late 1980s when his baby son was being treated for cancer.
A few years later, in 1991, he received a call to tell him that he was a match for a patient in the USA who was in desperate need of a transplant.
Ian with his fiancée, Lorraine
He agreed to donate and travelled to the Harley Street Clinic in London to make the lifesaving donation.
He gave his bone marrow on the morning of May 17, 1991, and it was immediately picked up by a courier who flew over to the USA on Concorde, allowing the patient to have his transplant that evening.
Ian said: “It was so rewarding – after making the donation, I went round with a huge smile on my face for six months.”
Following the donation, Ian learned that his bone marrow had gone to a 44-year-old man called Rick who lived in Delaware and who was suffering from Aplastic Anaemia.
Rick, who is now 68, wrote to Ian to thank him and it was at this point that he explained that he had feared he would never be able to walk his young daughter down the aisle.
Rick’s daughter, Marissa as a child
At that moment, an unspoken agreement was made that if that day ever came, Ian would be there to see it.
Rick and Ian met in person for the first time in 1996 when Ian and his family flew out to America to meet them.
Ian said: “It was incredible – we got on so well from the first minute. It was just great.”
In 2000 Rick, his wife Mary, and daughter Marissa, returned the visit and came to see Ian in the UK.
Ian also attended a surprise 60th birthday party for Rick in the USA in 2007.
Rick with his wife, Mary
Now, Ian will fly to Pennsylvania to see Marissa, 27, marry her fiancé Dustin on May 9.
Coincidentally, Ian – who was sadly widowed in 2011 – will be marrying his partner, Lorraine Scott, in Durham on May 2 so will be attending Marissa’s wedding as part of his honeymoon.
Ian said: “It’s sort of surreal. It is like a completion of the story. I am quite an emotional person and I am sure it will be an amazing moment to see Rick walk down the aisle with Marissa after all of these years.”
If you are aged 16 to 30 and in good health, you can join the Anthony Nolan register by clicking on the button below.