Sean Woodford (1956-2018)
St. John’s NL
We honour the memory of my husband, Sean, through the special relationship we have with his stem cell donor.
Sean was diagnosed with AML on my birthday in 2009. We spent the Christmas holidays that year in the hospital waiting for a stem cell donor. There were no matches in Sean’s family and our only hope was that a stranger would be found in the global search. The doctors told us that without this miracle, Sean only had two to three months left to live. On January 7, 2010 we got the news we were waiting for; the doctors had found a stem cell match, the only match in the world for Sean.
Two years after a transplant, it is possible to connect with a donor, if both sides agree, which we did. Sean’s donor was a young man from Germany named Christian Wolf. We had a response within 30 minutes of emailing him. The next morning, we were on our first video call together. This was the beginning of a beautiful relationship between our families. We kept in touch regularly and the following year Christian, his parents, and wife-to-be came to St. John’s to meet us in person.
The following year, Sean, me, and our son, Corey, went to Germany to visit them. We were invited back again to attend Christian’s wedding in October 2018, but sadly Sean became ill and passed away in August. His wish was for me to be there and I was. At the reception, I sat at the head table with the family, along with a picture of Sean. Christian’s sister told the story of their special friendship and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. We all knew that Sean was looking down on us.
I went back to Germany once more to see Christian’s new baby. He and his wife are expecting their second child this year, and the baby is due on Sean’s birthday. As soon as I can travel again, I will be there to celebrate with them. Christian gave Sean a second chance at life and gave us the gift of eight more years with him. They were eight years we wouldn’t have had if not for the generosity of someone who was once a stranger, but who is now a part of our family.