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When Hugh met Kalven (video)

September 13, 2023

Hugh was barely more than one year old when he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Weeks of tests and hospital visits soon stretched into months of chemotherapy treatment, until finally the decision was made that he would require a blood stem cell transplant. Now, almost ten years on, Hugh is happy and healthy, with a delightfully optimistic outlook on life.

Kalven didn’t even know who Hugh was for several years after he donated the stem cells that would help to save his life. For him it was just something you do, “you’ve gotta help people”, he shrugs.

“All I needed to know was that there was someone who needed help.”

KALVEN, blood stem cell donor

When a patient gets matched with a donor on the registry and they receive a transplant, neither party can contact each other for at least two years after the donation. If, at the two year mark, both parties independently agree to share contact information, they can reach out to each other.

Some patients may find the thought of making contact with their donors too overwhelming, or they may still be too ill. This wasn’t the case for Hugh, his mother Cassandra and Kalven. They exchanged letters for several years after Hugh’s recovery, finally organising to meet up in person recently.

We were fortunate enough to be there for the moment when Hugh met Kalven, the donor who saved his life. Watch the video below.


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