Despite the thousands of miles between them, Barry Crackett will not be forgetting the American boy whose life he saved this Christmas.
Barry, of Widdrington Station in Northumberland, donated bone marrow which saved the life of Ryan Compton, who was critically ill battling leukaemia in the USA.
Since meeting eight-year-old Ryan and his parents Maggie and Jason earlier this year at their home in Los Angeles, Barry and his family have formed an unbreakable bond with the Compton’s.
Barry, 35, has told how the families have exchanged Christmas cards and presents, and said he believes they will be friends for life.
“We keep in touch with Ryan and his parents Maggie and Jason thanks to the joys of Facebook and Skype and we are sending presents over and they have sent presents too,” said the dad-of-one.
“My wife has a thing about buying Christmas decorations, she has done some for our son and will do every year so by the time he leaves home he will have all his own to take and she’s doing the same for Ryan,” said Barry, who lives with wife Jessica and nine-month-old son Sol.
Earlier this year we told the heart-warming story of how Barry, a design engineer with North East brush design and manufacturing company Brushtec, met Ryan and his family for the first time at a special ceremony in America following the life-saving transplant.
But it was back in 2002 that the story began when Barry decided to join the Anthony Nolan register.
Then in October 2010, he was contacted and told that he was a match for a little boy with leukaemia.
A month later he went down to a hospital in London where bone marrow was harvested from his pelvis and, unbeknown to him, flown across the Atlantic for transplantation in then five-year-old Ryan.
Then in July this year Barry travelled to Los Angeles with his wife Jessica and newborn son Sol to meet schoolboy Ryan whose life he saved when he donated bone marrow.
“When we first got there it was like we had known each other for years,” said Barry.
“We are now friends for life and we would love to go and see them again,” he added.
Barry and his family are spending Christmas in Cananda this year with his wife Jessica’s parents. He said he would like to Skype the Compton family over the festive period as the time difference will not be as great.
“Hopefully we will speak to them at Christmas on Skype,” he said.
“We would like to do it more but part of the problem is the time difference being eight hours and then work gets in the way as well.
“But being in Cananda at Christmas the time difference will only be four hours and we can all be together then,” he added.
Earlier this year Barry was shortlisted in the Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards for the Simon Dyson Award for Volunteer of the Year. He was specially commended for his role in helping to save Ryan’s life.
To find out more about becoming a donor or about Anthony Nolan visit their website www.anthonynolan.org .