Nottinghamshire schoolgirl meets German woman whose stem cell transplant saved her life

  • ITV News Central Reporter Phil Brewster spoke to Sofia and Dana, whose stem cell transplant saved her life

A girl from Mansfield has met the woman she owes her life to.

Sofia Gardella, 9, was diagnosed with the 'one in a billion' condition Congenital Amegakaryocytic Thrombocytopeniav (CAMT), a rare genetic blood disorder at the age of two, which left her desperately in need of a stem cell transplant.

Today Sofia is happy and well - and now, seven years later she got to say a big thank you in person to the woman who saved her life.

L-R: Sofia aged two, and now aged nine. Credit: Family handout

Sofia's mum Claire says: "It was a very difficult time, to be honest. We had the phone call to say for me and her Dad to come to the hospital and I was like 'Do you need to see Sofia too?' and they said no, so we knew it was going to be news."

Sofia's only hope was a stem cell transplant. Her medical team scoured the Anthony Nolan Stem cell register and in 2015 matched her with Dana Ernst-Behme from Germany.

Dana says she was "very happy" to donate - and even more so when she heard the recipient would be a little girl.

Dana's stem cells were flown to the UK and Sofia has since made a remarkable recovery.

Dana Ernst-Behme, who donated the stem cells that saved Sofia's life. Credit: ITV News Central

Now, seven years later, Dana has come to the UK to meet Sofia in person. And it was hug at first sight.

Sofa says: "I was about to cry if I'm being honest. But when I saw her I was like 'I wish I could be with you forever but obviously I've got to let her go back home.'

Her mum Claire added: "You've got one hope that's going to make her better, and you know it's just amazing that there's people out there that, you know, would be so selfless    to help us

Dana says that for her, it was "a little thing", and says she's "not a hero."

Now, Sofia is happy and healthy, and thanks to Dana's selfless act of kindness, is doing all the things a normal 9-year-old would do.

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