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Fort Myers woman meets German stem cell donor

Posted at 7:43 PM, Oct 01, 2019

Tuesday afternoon, in a Fort Myers clubhouse, was an adoption ceremony of sorts.

At least that’s what Andrea McCarraher and Daniela Scholch say.

"Maybe [she’d be] a second mother? Yes, my mother in the United states,” said Scholch.

The pair, actually met for the first time that day, following a journey that started four years ago and thousands of miles away.

"I thought there's no way I have leukemia. Why would I have leukemia?,” said McCarraher.

McCarraher was diagnosed in September 2015 and after rounds of chemo, she was placed on a list for a stem cell donation.

The donation eventually came via 26-year-old Daniela who lives in Germany.

According to Daniela, signing up to donate stem cells is pretty common there.

"It's not special… A lot of people do it.”

It may be no big deal in Germany, but it was life changing here in Fort Myers, where Andrea says she aims to make the most of her second chance at life by encouraging others to donate.

"We all have a purpose in life and I certainly found mine. It's not just being a mother of a wife, or a friend. But my mission is to bring awareness about how important it is for others,” said McCarraher.

The pair were matched through Be The Match, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping people get life-saving transplants.

  • Mauricio Murillo, Operations Recruitment Manager of Be The Match partner, The Icla Da Silva Foundation, says McCarraher’s story is why the group does the work they do.

“We have a lot of patients who don’t have any matches in the registry. So, our work is not done until everyone has a match, especially those who are in ethnically diverse communities, because there is a huge need for those communities. You typically match with someone that has the same ethnicity.”

According to Be the Match, this is the likelihood of finding a match, based on ethnicity:

  • White: 77% chance
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native: 57% chance
  • Hispanic/Latino: 46% chance
  • Asian/Pacific Islander: 41% chance
  • Black/African American: 23% chance

To learn more about stem cell donation, click here.

McCarraher will also be hosting an informational meeting for potential donors on October 2.

See the flyer below for the details.