London lifeguard travels to US to meet woman he saved through stem cell donation
A London man has described the moment he met the woman whose life he saved with a stem cell donation after traveling thousands of miles to see her.
Callum Kennedy-Mann, a 22-year-old lifeguard from Stoke Newington, flew to Pennsylvania in the US in late 2022 to meet Diane Fargo after his stem cell donation helped treat the aggressive forms of leukemia she was suffering from.
Mr Kennedy-Mann forgot he signed up to the stem cell registry set up by Anthony Nolan – a charity dedicated to helping blood cancer patients – when he was 16, and while he was studying at York University in 2019 he was surprised when he received a phone call was a genetic match to Ms. Fargo.
“I didn’t hesitate to say I would after they told me I was the best possible match,” Kennedy-Mann said.
“It was instinctive for me to know that I could have a huge impact on someone’s life.
Two years after the donation, he was able to contact Ms. Fargo and was relieved to learn that she was still recovering well from the treatment.
“That was the most emotional moment for me — receiving a letter telling me she was alive,” Kennedy-Mann said.
Ms. Fargo then offered Mr. Kennedy-Mann and his girlfriend the opportunity to travel and meet her in America, and he quickly accepted the offer and flew to spend American Thanksgiving together.
Mr Kennedy said meeting Ms Fargo was “so natural”.
“From the second I saw her at the airport, meeting Diane was so natural — I felt like I already knew her and we didn’t feel like strangers at all,” he said.
Ms. Fargo referred to Mr. Kennedy-Mann as her “guardian angel.”
“Having my doctor find a ‘perfect donor’ was amazing news… Then to hear that it was a young man from London who saved my life without hesitation was just amazing to hear,” she said.
“Callum is my guardian angel and having the opportunity to host him and his girlfriend for Thanksgiving was a true blessing.”
She added, “I am so grateful to Anthony Nolan and will forever be grateful to Callum for his kind and selfless sacrifice.”
Anthony Nolan is urging more young men like Mr. Kennedy-Mann to enroll in his stem cell registry.
Henny Braund, CEO of Anthony Nolan, said: “Younger men like Callum under 30 are 13 times more likely to be selected to donate in the UK so it’s important that more thought is given to membership.”
The charity is also urging those from minority ethnic backgrounds to register, as it said only 37% of transplant recipients from minority backgrounds receive the best stem cell donor from an unrelated donor, compared to 72% of patients from White Caucasian backgrounds.
Mr. Kennedy-Mann said registering as a stem cell donor is a simple process and one can “make a huge impact not just on a person’s life but on their entire family and circle of friends.”