Bone marrow donor surprises recipient
By Ivory Riner
Marshall County High graduate, Brandon Bradley, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia on June 2, 2013, celebrated his one-year bone marrow transplant with a little surprise.
"When we applied for the bone barrow transplant, we were told that we couldn't contact the donor, but the donor could contact us if he or she wanted to. We filled out the paperwork and the doctor then forwarded our information to the Bone Marrow Registry," said Brandon's mother Shan Wells.
On Sept. 11, the family received a phone call on Brandon's one-year bone marrow birthday. It was Raymond Gaule, the young man who had donated his bone marrow.
"I was in shock. He called and told me who he was and I started fighting back tears. It was completely up to him, so I was so honored he wanted to contact us," said Shan, "My heart was so full and I couldn't stop smiling. I gave the phone to Brandon and he didn't know what to say. I think they have talked every day since that day. It's like they have always been friends."
After receiving the bone marrow, Brandon's immune system was that of a newborn. He is having to get all of his vaccinations redone.
To celebrate his one-year bone marrow transplant birthday, Shan threw Brandon a birthday party at the First Baptist Church in Lewisburg. She invited his donor, not thinking he would fly from Rhode Island to the little town of Marshall County, but he did.
Raymond and his mother Laura flew in and surprised Brandon for his birthday. While in Tennessee, Shan took them to Nashville to see the Parthenon, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and Broadway.
Raymond, who was a student at Motoring Technical Training Institute in Massachusetts, was donating blood to the American Red Cross when he was asked if he would like to donate his bone marrow. He said yes and later underwent a risky procedure that, according to doctors, is more dangerous for the donor than for the recipient.
Raymond's mother said that he did all of this on his own and that she is very proud of him.
"All of this has taught me to slow down, appreciate life, and don't take anything for granted. The community has literally wrapped us up in their arms," said Shan.
Brandon is now free of cancer and only sees his doctor once a month. He attends Tennessee College of Applied Technology Shelbyville for Computer-Aided Design and still attends First Baptist, the church that stood by his side through it all.