Wayne Roepke is a hero thrice-over. Three times he has made the decision to give of himself for another. Three times he has provided a chance at a better life to someone he did not even know. Eight years had passed since Mr. Roepke joined the registry of bone marrow and stem cell donors. At first, he could not believe the Coordinator when he was contacted as a potential match. Realization soon dawned, though, and Mr. Roepke was “hoping I would pass all the tests so I could help someone that needed my help”.
In the years following donation, donor and recipient exchanged anonymous letters and Christmas cards. In 2013, Mr. Roepke finally met his recipient, a lovely woman named Antonetta, living in Germany. They met at a train station. Mr. Roepke said, “It was like meeting an old friend, I was so glad I could help her.”
When asked what message he would send to potential donors, Mr. Roepke stated, “Do it, because the joy and gratitude you get out of helping someone cannot be described or measured…”
We salute all heroes – those who serve, those who give, those who care – and honor their generosity. For more information about our program or becoming a bone marrow or stem cell donor, please visit www.salutetolife.org.
In the fall of 2004, I was diagnosed with osteomyelofibrosis. All of my blood values were extremely low. I was not even strong enough to walk.
I received treatment at the University Clinic of Hannover, Germany. At first, I received multiple blood transfusions. It became clear that the only hope for a long-term cure would be a bone marrow transplant.
I have four brothers and sisters and all four volunteered to donate stem cells in case their cell types matched. Unfortunately none of them matched. So we had to continue looking for a donor. My daughter contacted local German newspapers and health centers. They organized a campaign to find as many stem cell donors as possible. Many people volunteered, but again no match was found for me. Then Friday the 13th of January, 2006, I was informed that an American donor with a perfect match was found through the world wide stem cell donor organization. I received the first bone marrow transplant on my 60th birthday. My blood values improved slightly, but not enough. After another boost of the same donor in 2009, my blood values became normal.
Since then I can work again as I did before I fell ill. I am a hostess at a touring car travel company. These days I can travel all over Europe again and I can assist the (mainly elderly) people in the bus. It feels great.
Not long ago my stem cell donor and I agreed to meet. That made me extremely happy, because it gave me the opportunity to thank him personally. He saved my life.
The more stem cell donors, the higher the chance that a match is found and that a life can be saved. So I am grateful to every donor, person, docter and nurse whose efforts make a stem cell transplant possible.