Stem cell recipient welcomes donor after transatlantic journey

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on March 24, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 25 at 10:23 PM

DALLAS -- Thomas Wunsche is a 26-year-old paramedic in Germany with hands-on experience saving lives. But he saved Katie Waggoner’s life from long distance.

Monday, Wunsche came to North Texas to meet Waggoner, whose life he saved when he donated his stem cells and helped cure her cancer.

It was a moment worth a 5,000 mile journey.

When she was diagnosed with a fast-moving blood cancer, he was the match who could save her life.

“He was the only one in the world who could do it. My own siblings didn’t match me," Katie Waggoner said. "So, it’s a huge deal."

That was three years ago. Monday morning, live on the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning radio show, they finally met.

Back then, it was no big deal for Thomas. He registered online as a donor at this website. A year later, he was told he was a perfect match for Waggoner.

In an afternoon, he was able to donate all the stem cells Katie needed. Now, he’s realizing how truly important that act was.

“Now that I know Katie and we met, it’s getting more and more important for me,” Wunsche said.

Especially after hearing from Katie’s young son, Ryan.

“Thank you for saving my mommy’s life," Ryan said on the radio show. "If it wasn’t for you, she wouldn’t be living to this day."

Now, that’s a big deal.

“He’s very important to me. Very important to me," Waggoner said. "[He'll] probably always be my good friend."

“For sure,” Thomas agreed.

Now that they’re sharing stem cells, it won’t be long before they’re finishing each other’s sentences.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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