Cancer survivor meets stem-cell donor who saved her life

ZION, Ill. (WLS) -- There wasn't a dry eye in the room when a Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor met the stem cell donor who saved her life. The emotional meeting happened Wednesday at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in north suburban Zion.

In front of physicians, nurses and family members, 33-year-old mother of three Adrian McDaniel met her registered National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) donor, 24-year-old former U.S. Marine Corps Reserve member, Matthew Erbe, for the first time.

McDaniel was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2012. Doctors searched for additional options to treat her aggressive cancer. McDaniel eventually began treatment to receive an allogeneic stem cell transplant, a procedure where stem cells are collected from a donor and transplanted into the patient.

None of McDaniel's family members were a match. Her name was placed into a national registry, where Erbe was found to be a perfect match.

The tearful meeting happened two weeks after the two-year anniversary of the stem-cell transplant, which has left McDaniel with no evidence of disease in her body.

Erbe met McDaniel's husband, Cody, their three children and other family members.

A tearful McDaniel presented Erbe with a handmade cross-stitched canvas with signatures from family and friends.

"The last several years have been an up and down journey for me," McDaniel said. "From the moment I walked into CTCA, I knew I was in the right place, with the right people. I'm so happy I was able to meet Matt today and share my deepest gratitude for him giving me a second chance to be a mom to my kids."

Erbe shared his own sentiments.

"When I was called by the NMDP and told I was a match, I immediately said yes," Erbe said. "Being Adrian's donor has created a bond between us that I think is hard for others to comprehend. I'm proud to have played a role in Adrian's story and I know we will remain friends long after this."
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