Emotional scenes as Daniel from Stoke flies to meet a high school student who has a second chance at life, thanks to his selfless stem cell donation.
“When you meet someone for the first time, that's not the whole book, it's just the first page. Five years ago, I didn't know that I would have a genetic twin that would introduce me to a whole new family across the pond.”
Early in 2018, Daniel Lewis-Dayle signed up as a potential donor. Just three months after registering, he received a call letting him know he was a potential match for someone needing a stem cell transplant.
Once confirmed as a match, Daniel travelled to a London hospital to donate his stem cells in a simple outpatient procedure, which they received anonymously in August 2018.
Strict UK regulations requiring stem cell donors and their recipients to remain anonymous for at least two years mean that Daniel, 45, has only now been able to meet meet his recipient, who received his stem cells as a vital part of her treatment for leukaemia.
Daniel flew from his home in Hanley, Stoke-on-Tent for a once-in-a-lifetime meeting with 17-year-old high school student Payton Granberry, and her family, in their home town of Dallas.
Tears flowed as they met for the very first time in Thanksgiving Square, central Dallas in early November, after Daniel used a salary bonus to fund his return trip to the United States.
“It’s just crazy, I never thought I would even be here, meeting him, and I wouldn’t be here without Daniel,” says Payton.
Payton was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia in February 2018. She became very ill and spent over 100 days in hospital. Doctors began a worldwide search, including the UK, for a stem cell donor for her.
“We are just so grateful for Daniel, he’s family to us, we have our little girl here and healthy, because of him,” says Steph Granberry, Payton’s mum. Since her transplant, Payton has only needed one blood transfusion, straight after her operation, she is now healthy, well and has just started her senior year high school studies.
Daniel was inspired to sign up to the DKMS stem cell register whilst watching an episode of the daytime soap ‘Home and Away’, in which the character Maggie Astoni needed a transplant. He is now a regular fundraiser for DKMS, and is keen to raise awareness of the urgent need for people to register as potential stem cell donors.
“All it takes to register is a simple mouth swab. If you are found to be a match for someone needing a transplant, in the vast majority of cases it is a very easy and comfortable process – just like giving blood – and absolutely nothing to worry about. DKMS were on hand to answer any questions I had,” says Daniel.
“Meeting Payton and her family has helped me understand even more how impactful donating is to so many people. I would do it again in a heartbeat!” he concludes.
Joining the DKMS stem cell register is a simple process involving a mouth swab, which can be completed at home. Anyone aged 17 – 55 years who is in general good health can register to receive a mouth swab kit.