August 30, 2019
Six years ago, 7-year-old Gabriel Smith received a life-saving bone marrow transplant at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Last week, Gabriel met the man who helped save his life — and he gave up a trip to Disney World to make it happen.
Dennis and Gabriel / Credit: Make A Wish Illinois
Gabriel was diagnosed as an infant with aplastic anemia. Doctors discovered he had bone marrow failure and needed a transplant.
Luckily, a match was waiting halfway around the world: 25-year-old Dennis Gutt, a carpenter in Germany.
“They found Dennis through the Be the Match registry and on the day of the transplant they told us he was a 19-year-old from Europe,” Gabriel’s mom, Lauren Smith told GMA. “That’s all they were allowed to tell us.”
Gutt agreed to the operation and went on with his life, not knowing what happened with his donation.
On October 16, 2013, 14-month-old Gabriel received the life-saving bone marrow transplant.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation approached the Smith family earlier this year about granting a wish to Gabriel.
“At first, he said, ‘Take my donor to meet Mickey’,” Smith told CNN. “But we couldn’t do that, so he was asked to choose one: Meet your donor or go to Disney. He chose to meet his donor, Dennis, without any hesitation.”
Make-A-Wish Illinois arranged for Gutt to fly from his hometown in Germany to Illinois to meet Gabriel and his family.
“He is part of our family now,” Smith said. “He bonded instantly with Gabriel and our other two kids, Ebby and Xavier.”
The Smith family plans to stay in touch with Gutt through social media until they meet again.
“We have plans that if we ever do get to Disney World, he’s coming with us,” Smith said. “We want him to go because he deserves everything that we can do for him.”
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