Over 20 years ago, Rick Haines was diagnosed with a plastic anemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. As doctors searched for a donor, Haines worried that he wouldn’t live to see his then-4-year-old daughter, Marissa, get married.
Finally, after nine months, a donor was found: 36-year-old Ian Brown from England. Haines was one of the first bone marrow transplants from a non-relative donor ever performed at Christiana Hospital, and the procedure saved his life. The procedure also changed his blood type, which he felt made them family.
When Haines and Brown finally met, Haines asked him if there was anything he could do to repay him.
“Even though [Marissa] was only 9 or 10 at the time, he told me the only thing he wanted was to be there when I walk Marissa down the aisle,” Haines told USA Today.
Brown recalled that defining moment, admitting, “I remember when we met it was quite emotional.
“He mentioned his daughter’s wedding to me in his letter, so when he asked me about how I could repay him, it just made sense. It was a long time ago, but [the wedding day] will be a debt repaid,” Brown said.
Recently, Haines was finally able to fulfill that pact, when he walked his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. He was thrilled to share the day with the man who made that moment possible.
“Everything could have turned out so differently,” Haines said. “It’s hard to explain what this means to me. I guess all I can say is I’m just glad to be alive.”
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