Richmond, VA (WRIC) — A Midlothian man reunited this week with a woman who saved his life from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Buddy Carter needed a bone marrow transplant.
Through an online registry called bethematch.org, Carter found his donor in Germany.
Sylvia Koppen had registered to help a sick child in her hometown but when she got the request to donate to a stranger in the United States, Koppen didn’t think twice.
“I knew somebody in the world, he needs my stem cells,” recalls Koppen about the unexpected request.
Adds Carter, “My chances for survival prior to the bone marrow transplant were not good but now I’m 7 years out and I’m strong, wonderful, happy and we’re best friends.”
The transplant took place back in 2011.
German donor laws prevented both sides from learning each other’s identity until 2013.
But once they did, the pair decided to meet in New York.
That trip led to many more. Carter and his wife visited Koppen and her husband in Germany twice.
The couples also vacationed together in Venice, Italy.
Carter and Koppen consider themselves family who are bound together not by blood, but by bone marrow.
“I couldn’t thank Sylvia for my life anymore,” says Carter, “More than ever, I’m alive.”
“I’m so happy to see how good he feels,” adds Koppen.
She and her husband flew into Virginia this week and met up at VCU Massey Cancer Center.
They wanted to thank the doctors and nurses who helped Carter heal.
“It’s a good life,” explains Carter, “And that’s the takeaway message. As down as you may be going through the process, going through the journey, there is life.”