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Fort Myers woman says German woman saved her life with stem cell donation

An inspiring story of how two strangers became family after a life-saving donation. Tuesday, inside the Plantation Golf and Country Club, two women from two different countries shared an emotional encounter.

Andrea McCarraher was nervous, but excited to meet her hero.

“I thought about for a long time and finally today is here,” she said.

The Fort Myers woman couldn’t hold back the tears when she finally met the German woman who helped save her life.

“Thank you so much. Thank you so much, you’re my hero,” said McCarraher.

This all started when doctors diagnosed McCarraher with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2015.

They gave her a 40% chance to live, but the following February, a stranger, Daneela Schoelch, living five thousand miles away in Struttgurd, Germany, gave her a second chance at life.

“I visit my genetic twin, yes my genetic twin,” said Schoelch.

A perfect match for stem cell transplants that McCarraher needed.

“It’s an amazing story considering she only had one perfect match,” said Be The Match Recruitment Supervisor Mauricio Murillo. “We have 19 million donors on the registry, but only one was a perfect match for her.”

“I didn’t know who you were, but I wondered so much about you. To save somebody’s life is an act of kindness,” said McCarraher.

Now, she’s in remission and looking forward to making more memories with a growing family.

“You’re part of me and I’m part of you,” said McCarraher. “You’re like my daughter now!”

McCarraher says her mission is to bring awareness to stem-cell donation and you can help. She started a textline to help people register to “Be The Match” for someone.

Text the word “GRATEFUL” to 61474 to register.

Anyone between the ages of 18-44 can register with Be The Match.

Reporter:Melinda Lee
Writer:Briana Harvath
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