METROPOLIS, IL — Clyde Wills is the former editor and publisher for the local newspaper, Metropolis Planet.
Wills was 65 years old when he was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. Doctors told him he had 11 months to live. “I just told them 11 months is not enough,” says Wills. “I’ve got things to do and places to go.”
If Wills wanted to survive, he would need a stem cell transplant. “My first reaction was, well, I’ve got five brothers and probably, surely, one of them would be a match, but no they weren’t,” he says.
As months passed, Wills continued to fight the cancer with chemo. Good news came when doctors finally found a match through Be the Match, which the National Marrow Donor Program operates.
“We had the car loaded, ready to go down there, and they called back and said, ‘No, there’s a problem,'” says Wills.
The donor backed out last minute, but Wills didn’t give up hope. One month later, doctors found another match through the same program. This time, Wills says the donor went through with the donation.
Back then, Wills knew nothing about his donor. Now, at 72 years old, he does. Her name is Sandra, and she’s from Germany. Wills says Sandra was in her 20s when she joined an international donor registry.
“If someone tests my blood for DNA, it’s Sandra’s blood that they get,” says Wills.
Wills was desperate to meet the stranger who saved his life. “I just wanted her to know how thankful I was,” says Wills.
That dream became a reality last month when Wills and his wife took a trip to Europe.
“About the only way I can think to maybe describe it is meeting a daughter or a sister that you’ve never met before,” says Wills. “It’s like you, you walk up to someone, put your arms around them, and breathe in and out, and think: This person saved my life.”
Wills is from Superman’s hometown, but it was a super woman who saved his life. Wills now calls Sandra his superhero.
Click here to learn how you can help save someone’s life.