“Blood Siblings:” The German Officer Who Saved an Israeli Cancer Patient

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When Larissa Brodaski was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, her doctors realized only a bone marrow transplant could save her. When no matching donor was found within her own family, the search continued overseas until a perfect match was discovered—a 21 year old German citizen. Five years later, the “blood siblings” met for the first time.

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Five years ago, the mother of a new baby, 31-year-old Larissa B., was diagnosed with Sezary Syndrome, a rare form of lymphoma. After seemingly endless rounds of consultations, chemotherapy, and biological therapies, the young woman’s disease continued to develop unabated. Her only hope, doctors advised, was a bone marrow transplant.

Larissa was admitted to the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Rambam Health Care Campus and underwent the long and arduous preparations for a transplant. When her family members were found to be unsuitable donors, Rambam’s bone marrow transplant coordinator extended the search to international bone marrow banks until a perfect match was found—in Germany.

Sebastien Hoder had been entered into his country’s bone marrow registry upon enlisting in the German navy. At the time, he never imagined that this routine procedure would end up saving the life of a young Israeli woman.

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Today, five years later, Larissa has fully recovered and returned to normal life thanks to the successful transplant of Sebastien’s bone marrow.

Following her recovery, Larissa felt a strong desire to meet her bone marrow donor in person. With the help of Rambam’s staff, contact was made with Sebastien, who was now an officer in the German Navy. Larissa then wrote, asking if he would like to visit Israel and meet. Surprised and delighted, Sebastien accepted.

Last week Larrissa was finally able to thank the man who saved her life. The meeting of the “blood siblings” took place in Tel Aviv at the airport, where Larissa met Sebastien for the first time and took him to her home; there he met her grateful family. Included on his itinerary was a visit of the two to Rambam where they met with all the people who helped save Larissa’s life, and who made possible the joyful meeting of the two “blood siblings.”

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