He travelled 5,000 miles to meet the man who saved his life and now little Ryan Compton has made new friends.
The eight-year-old from Los Angeles is on the mend after bone marrow was donated by Barry Crackett, of Northumberland’s Widdrington Station, two years ago.
The selfless action of Barry, himself a new dad, is helping Ryan to come off medication and make a full recovery, and yesterday the youngster visited the region before he jets back to the USA today.
The schoolboy was at The Barns, a Durham Constabulary training facility for police dogs in Spennymoor, County Durham.
Jason Compton, Ryan’s father, is an officer for the LA Police Department so it was a chance for the family, which includes mum Maggie and cousin Jasmine, to see the workings of a British police force first-hand.
The family witnessed disciplined displays from black Labradors Jody and Guinness, perky springer spaniels Moby and Lenny and German shepherd Kaiser. Ryan even got to sit in the Durham police helicopter.
“We have had a really good time,” said Jason.
“We were hoping to have some English weather, but the weather has been pretty good. It is hot all the time in California.
“With me being a police officer, this was something we really wanted to do and Ryan has loved every second of it. He enjoyed himself immensely.
“He liked the two black Labradors and he kept trying to play with them. Everyone was really friendly.”
Jason added he hoped their visit would encourage more people to sign up to the Anthony Nolan register and become bone marrow donors.
“We are really grateful to Barry, the City of Hope and The Bone Marrow Foundation,” he said.
“We want to spread the word. You can see how far away people can benefit. Barry is over here in England and we are in California.
“Barry saved Ryan’s life and he is thousands of miles away and it all happened in one day.”
Barry, a 34-year-old design engineer, lives with his wife Jessica and baby son Sol.
He said it made him happy to see Ryan fit and healthy and sporting an old policeman’s hat.
He said: “The police did a cracking job.
“Ryan and his family have had a day that they will never forget.
“We all get on really well and it is nice to be able to share the baby with them.”
PC Steve Deakin, one of Durham Constabulary’s police dog handlers, said it was a delight for officers to host the family.
He said: “A couple of our dog handlers saw Barry on the news saying that Ryan was coming across and how he wasn’t 100% sure how he would entertain him and he was looking for ideas.
“So we contacted him and said we were happy to put something on at the dog support unit. It has been a celebration of Barry’s bravery and of Ryan and his family’s bravery, and it has been a privilege to be involved.”