City of Hope
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Superheroes are making plenty of headlines as the summer blockbuster season opens. At City of Hope, a 9-year-old girl wept as she hugged her own superhero: someone who had the superpower of healing her cancer.
He didn't wear flashy armor or a cape, but rather a plaid shirt. He doesn't have a secret hideout, a signal that blazes across the sky when he's needed or a funny catch phrase. He did travel all the way from Germany, and over and over said he was just doing the right thing.
Bone marrow transplant patient Amanda Cooper, who was treated for acute myeloid leukemia at age 7, finally met Lars Nijland, the 24-year-old man who donated the bone marrow making her transplant and cure possible. They met at City of Hope's 39th annual Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion. Amanda, standing tall in red patent leather shoes – her companion Honey Buns the bear just out of sight – faced a crowd of her fellow cancer survivors and TV cameras to deliver the speech she wrote to welcome her donor.
This morning I meet my bone marrow donor. I dreamt of this day, but never actually imagined it could happen. For so long now, I've prayed for him and wondered all about him. I did know a few things before today.
I knew he was a boy. I knew he was from Germany. Most of all I knew he was a superhero, brave and selfless.
I didn't know what he looked like so I could only imagine, and I imagined he was a superhero, and today I found out I was right. He is a superhero. He is part of me, and I know that I already love him. I hope as I grow that I can make him happy and proud that he gave me this wonderful gift of his bone marrow.
To my bone marrow donor, I'd like to say "danke schoen."
Thank you also to Dr. Forman, who has seen my family through the highs and lows and joins us here today for this happy moment. Also, thank you to Dr. Pawlowska for seeing me through my journey from beginning to end. I have been blessed to be in your care.
After finishing her thanks, Amanda finally had the chance to hug the hero who saved her life. Later, she and her parents gave him a scrapbook of all the fun her – or, rather, their – bone marrow had been having since she recovered.
For his part, Nijland just repeated that he was only doing the right thing. Donating bone marrow is simple, it's easy and it could save someone's life. Who could say no to that?
Just like a superhero.