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Overseas Stem Cell Donor and New Jersey Patient Recipient Share Heartwarming Meeting

Opportunity to witness the life-changing impact of stem cell donation

McGrath (left) and Wiebke


Lael McGrath (left) and Wiebke Rudolph

When Lael McGrath couldn’t shake the flu in the summer of 2016, she thought she might have Lyme disease and sought out a specialist. Further revelation of acute myeloid leukemia came as a shock to this newly retired second grade teacher, avid runner/yoga enthusiast and busy grandmother of six from Toms River, New Jersey.

She was referred to the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJ) New Brunswick – an RWJBarnabas Health facility. The program is one of only two in the state, and the only one that is part of a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

McGrath’s care team determined she was a candidate for a stem cell transplant, but five of her living siblings were not a match. Through the help of Blood Services at RWJ and the Be the Match® donor registry, a search began for a suitable donor.

Two and a half years later, the 67-year old McGrath never would have thought she would be meeting her donor – 21-year old Wiebka (VEEB-kuh) Rudolph from Germany who placed herself on a donor registry at age 18 – face to face.

As part of a special trip to the U.S., Rudolph is staying with McGrath during this week. During that time, McGrath and Rudolph will visit McGrath’s doctor, bone marrow transplant coordinator and other members of her care team during a special reception at the hospital on Friday, September 27. Representatives of RWJ Blood Services and Be The Match® (operated by the National Marrow Donor Program) also will be in attendance.

Lael McGrath and Wiebke Rudolph

(from left) Bone marrow transplant coordinator Mary Kate McGrath, transplant recipient Leal McGrath, hematologist/oncologist Dr. Vimal Patel, and bone marrow donor Wiebke Rudolph at a special celebration with members of the Blood and Marrow Transplant team at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital New Brunswick, an RWJBarnabas Health facility.

 

McGrath-Wiebka

Bone marrow donor Wiebke Rudolph from Germany hugs transplant recipient Lael McGrath during a special celebration with members of the Blood and Marrow Transplant team at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital New Brunswick, an RWJBarnabas Health facility.