MAYWOOD, Ill. – Two years ago, a young man from Germany named Manuel Auge donated some of his bone marrow to save the life of a complete stranger, Thomas Murphy of Burr Ridge. The bone marrow transplant cured Murphy of a blood disorder called MDS that otherwise would have been fatal.
On Sunday, Sept. 8, Auge and Murphy met for the first time during the 25th Annual Bone Marrow Transplant Celebration of Survivorship at Loyola University Chicago Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center. More than 400 patients, family members and friends attended.
Murphy, who lives in Burr Ridge, had a blood disorder called myelodysplastic syndrome. MDS causes immature blood cells to accumulate in the bone marrow, leading to a shortage of mature blood cells. Mature blood cells that are made also can be defective.
To kill the defective cells, Murphy received high-dose chemotherapy and whole-body radiation. He then received healthy new blood-forming stem cells that came from Auge’s bone marrow.
“You saved my life,” Murphy told Auge moments after they met. “You’re a star.” Auge, a physics student in Tullmenau, Germany, said, “If you could save the life of a person, I think you should do it. It gives you a good feeling."
Murphy’s physician, Dr. Patrick Stiff, said, “Mr. Auge is as much a hero as a fireman who pulls a person out of a burning building. Because he donated his cells, Mr. Murphy is alive and healthy today.”