Bone Marrow Donor Came To The US From Germany To Meet The Twin Girls He Saved

Date January 15, 2018

When twin sisters, Elizabeth and Kathryn Girtler, from Minnesota turned three years old, the doctors diagnosed them with a rare genetic disorder - congenital amegakaryocytic thrombocytopenia.

This disease is dangerous because it dramatically reduces the activity of bone marrow, which makes it incapable of producing blood platelets.

To survive, the girls needed an urgent bone marrow transplant, but finding a donor was almost impossible.

Neither the girls' brother nor their parents could be donors. 13-year-old LeeRoy tested negative as a donor, and their mother and father could not donate their bone marrow because they themselves were carriers of this disease.

Time went by, but no donor could be found. Having already lost all hope, the family decided to take part in a program that searches for volunteer donors. People who participate in the "Be the Match" program anonymously extend a helping hand to those who need it.

One of those volunteers was Ingo Gruda, a construction worker from the city of Munster in Germany.

About ninety days after Elizabeth and Kathryn Girtler's mother applied to the program, the family received the long-awaited news: A donor had been found!

In May 2011, 3-year-old Elizabeth received a bone marrow transplant. In June of the following year, 4-year-old Kathryn also had the operation. The girls' mother, 43-year-old Michele Girtler, said that the doctors intentionally spaced out the girl's surgeries to avoid possible confusion in the treatment of twins.

But to whom were Elizabeth and Kathryn in debt for saving them? A few years went by, and their mother appealed to volunteers of the donor search program to help her find the anonymous savior of her daughters.

It turned out that it was Ingo Gruda, who had continued to live and work in Germany all that time.

As soon as Michele got the phone number of the donor, she decided to call him, speaking through a translator.

At the moment Michele called, Ingo was working on a scaffold. Learning that it was the mother of the girls he had saved, the man sat down and began to cry. Michele was deeply touched by his reaction.

The mother said:

I heard people asking him if he had been hurt. I heard him say no, and that in fact, someone was on the mend! Then I realized that he was perfectly aware of what he was doing, participating in the donor program.

Soon, 9-year-old Elizabeth and Kathryn were able to personally meet their savior. Volunteers of the program arranged for Ingo to travel to the United States so that the family could personally express their gratitude to him.

Four years after the final transplant, Ingo traveled to Minnesota to meet the girls he had saved.

My daughters immediately fell in love with him," said their mother, Michele Girtler. "They talked to him as if they'd known him all their lives. It was so emotional! We were so touched. There were many tears, and we are extremely grateful!"

The twins and their donor first met at a charity gala concert.

Elizabeth and Kathryn did not hide their excitement and happiness. The girls made a gift for Ingo ahead of time, and in return, he immediately invited them both to dance.

The trio posed for a lot of photos together. That was one way the Girtler family could express their gratitude!

This year, Elizabeth and Kathryn turned nine, and this was only possible thanks to Ingo. If only there were more people like him!

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