New Jersey grandmother meets stem cell donor from around the world

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Friday, September 27, 2019
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Josh Einiger reports on the stem cell donor reunion in New Jersey.

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A New Jersey woman was reunited with the young woman from around the world who helped save her life.

Lael McGrath couldn't shake the flu in the summer of 2016 and thought she might have Lyme disease so she sought out a specialist.

The newly retired 2nd-grade teacher and grandmother of six was shocked to learn she actually had acute myeloid leukemia.

When doctors at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital determined she was a candidate for a stem cell transplant, a search began for a donor.

McGrath, now 67, was matched with 21-year-old Wiebka Rudolph of Germany. Rudolph placed herself on a donor registry at the age of 18.

"And we were able to find a young woman, a young woman who has given us hope has given us life and has given her a new chance as life," Dr. Vimal Patel said.

The two never thought they would one day meet face to face.

"When I saw her I couldn't squeeze her hard enough," McGrath said.

As part of a special trip to the United States, Rudolph is staying with McGrath this week and they visited various members of McGrath's care team during a special reception on Friday.

The strangers who live an ocean apart are now family forever.


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