Local woman meets bone marrow transplant recipient

Iowa City, Iowa - 6 years ago Jonas Staal was diagnosed with leukemia and after trying everything from chemo to radiation, he was given the prognosis of death without a transplant.

"Then they had to step the chemo down because they were seeing that I would not survive the chemo" Says, Jonas Staal, bone marrow recipient, "If they kept giving it to me, so it was at the right time that I got the call from the hospital that they found a match."

Jonas who is from Denmark, was not matched to anyone in his home country. So, his doctors checked Be The Match, an international registry for bone marrow donors. This is where they found Rachel Kruse.

"There was 900 people who signed up for Deven, and I had helped with some of the publicity for that and I hope that made a difference in that community." Says Rachel Kruse, bone marrow donor, "But for me it was just, he got help, if I can help someone else that's great."

Rachel was a local reporter who covered a story about Deven Strief a young boy from Eldridge who also needed a transplant, his story inspired her to join the registry.

"it just really shows how we are all truly connected in the world." Molly Strief, Devon's mom, "And how amazing it is that someone from all the way over there has benefited from from a drive that was done in our teeny tiny little town back here in Iowa. To know there was another life that was saved."

Out of every 540 people who sign up only one of those people will ever be called. Rachel signed up along with hundreds of others to see if she was a match to that young boy however, her time to donate didn't come until years later.

"At first it was like really?" Says Kruse, "You almost forget over that many years you almost forget that you signed up, then it was like of course. No questions asked."

It is not hard to become a bone marrow donor. It only requires a few questions and a swab of the cheek

"it's not as bad as people think it is. Says Rachel, "Because a lot of people have come up to me and said well didn't that hurt or before hand isn't that going to hurt? A lot of people made those comments and again that's why we're here because it's not that bad."

Laws prohibit donors and recipients from talking for the first 2 years after surgery, so their reunion was many years in the making.

Jonas says, "it was so natural to meet them and hug them and talk to them."

Thankfully both Jonas and Deven are alive today because of people they didn't know.

"Just go do it." Says Jonas, Really it's so special to give another person the gift of life."

 

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