- The Washington Times - Monday, September 6, 2004

DALLAS - From time to time, Marine Sgt. Barry Hanson has envisioned saving someone’s life — maybe in Afghanistan or perhaps in Iraq. Certainly not in a small town in East Texas.

Far from any battleground, the 25-year-old aviation electronics mechanic stationed in New Orleans came to the rescue when he learned his bone marrow was a match for Rosemary Redfern.

“It wasn’t exactly the way I pictured it in my overactive imagination,” Sgt. Hanson said.

Mrs. Redfern desperately needed a transplant because of a rare blood disease that can turn into a deadly form of leukemia. The soft-spoken Marine and the 50-year-old Marshall woman who owes her life to him met for the first time Thursday — 16 months after her successful transplant.

“He is my life saver because if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here today,” Mrs. Redfern said. “He is just an angel to me.”

Doctors and nurses at Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center wiped away tears as Sgt. Hanson and Mrs. Redfern hugged and ate celebratory cake.

“The message of today is that miracles happen every day through the generous gifts of complete strangers,” said Jane Stearns, manager of Baylor’s Unrelated Stem Cell Donor Program.

In Mrs. Redfern’s case, doctors determined none of her four sisters was a match. A search of the national database found Sgt. Hanson. While serving in Okinawa, Japan, the Marine had given blood and filled out a card agreeing to donate marrow if needed.

By the time the call came, the Stockport, Ohio, native was based at the Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base, in New Orleans.

After a series of blood tests to confirm the match, he underwent nearly a week of outpatient procedures to make the donation. Sgt. Hanson knew only that a woman, then 49, needed help. He learned her name much later. “I always wondered how she was doing, if it worked,” he said.

He finally got his answer.

“You are looking outstanding,” he said as they met. “You look good, too,” she replied.

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