'It is a humbling experience, to realise that you have saved a life'
After donating blood stem cells to help an unknown leukaemia patient, Eamonn Whelan always wondered if he would ever find out anything more about the man whose life he had saved.
Now, more than four years later, Eamonn is making preparations to travel to Germany to meet the recipient, grandfather Heinz Glauche, in his hometown.
Heinz, 65, has told Eamonn he cannot thank him enough for giving him the chance to see his grandson grow up, telling him in an e-mail: "There must be a god who helped me with a man like you."
Father-of-two Eamonn, of Aylestone, said: "I'd always thought about who he was, the man who I had donated to.
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"It's a humbling experience, to realise how much you've changed a person's life – to realise you've saved a life."
Under rules set by Anthony Nolan, the charity that arranges stem cell transplants, donors and recipients have to wait at least two years before they can make contact.
"When I was able to, I asked for details, and eventually I got them as Heinz had said 'yes' too," said Eamonn, 45.
"I just sent him an e-mail saying who I was and I got a reply within a day.
"He told me who he was and told me about his family, and he said he was healthy now. He's in remission."
Eamonn and his wife, Cheryl, are now planning a trip to Springe, near Hannover, to meet Heinz.
The journey will mark the five-year anniversary of the transplant.
"I'm really excited about meeting him. It's brilliant, it really is," said Eamonn.
"What I had to do was such a small sacrifice, but it has saved his life."
Eamonn joined the Anthony Nolan register more than 10 years before he was asked to be a donor, after seeing a story in the Mercury about a little girl with leukaemia.
When he was found to be a suitable donor for Heinz, he was asked to donate – and said "yes" straight away.
Ahead of the donation, Eamonn had a week of injections, which were done at his home, to prepare his body.
He then went to London for a procedure in which the donor stem cells were harvested. It took no more than six hours.
The stem cells are then fed into the recipient via a blood transfusion.
It is then hoped that the donated stem cells will help the patient's body build a healthy immune system that will be able to fight the leukaemia, which is a blood cancer.
"You feel slightly uncomfortable, but that's it," said Eamonn of the harvesting procedure.
"It's a very easy process, and when you think what you're going through, compared to the person on the other end, there's no comparison.
"It was such a simple thing I had to do, and it saved his life. I just wish more people would join the bone marrow register."
To find out more about Anthony Nolan, and the register of donors, visit: