A selfless stem cell donor has flown 5,000 miles to Texas to meet the 17-year-old girl whose life he saved five years ago.
Dan Lewis-Dayle, 45, from Stoke-on-Trent, shared an emotional embrace with Payton Granberry when they came face-to-face for the first time.
She was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called aplastic anaemia aged 12 and spent over 100 days in hospital.
Dan’s stem cells were shipped across the Atlantic and used to reset her immune system.
High school student Payton, who has been in remission since the transplant, told the Daily Express she was “very nervous” to meet the person who gave her a new lease of life.
She added: “You don’t know what you’re going to say or do, or how you’ll react. It’s definitely nerve-wracking.
“It was very surreal, a dreamy feeling. It didn’t seem real for a good while.”
Actor Dan said he found himself “pacing like a new dad” ahead of the meeting.
But the pair became instant friends and found they had a surprising amount in common, including a love of conspiracy theories and the theatre.
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Dan, who joked that Payton is like his “stem-daughter”, recalled the moment he decided to join the donor register.
He said: “I was watching an episode of Home and Away and there was a character in it who needed a stem cell donation.
“Something flashed up at the end of the episode and I just thought, I’ll sign up for it if I can do some good. I never expected to receive a call back so quickly.”
Within three months, Dan’s stem cells were making their way to Payton – though he had no idea who he was helping at the time and only knew it was a very sick child.
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Years later they were put in touch by charity DKMS and Dan handwrote a letter introducing himself to her family.
Payton’s dad Brandon said the visit had been a huge success and he was incredibly grateful to Dan.
He added: “It’s crazy how one person can change so much for you. It saved her life.
“I was all for meeting and it’s been super, we’ve had a really good time.”
More than 2,000 people need a stem cell transplant each year in the UK but the donor register cannot meet demand.
If you are aged between 17-55 and in general good health you can sign up for a home swab kit online here.
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