Baylor Health Care System Foundation

Patient Stories


Leukemia Survivor

How do you thank someone for saving your life who lives across the globe, doesn’t know you and doesn’t speak your language? That was the question for James Chippendale. At age 31, James faced what could have been a death sentence. He was found to have a lethal form of leukemia. A bone marrow transplant was his only hope.

Baylor put James on the national donor registry list, but when no match was found, they widened the net. That’s when they found Klaus Kaiser, a bicycle repairman in a small German village, who each year continued checking the “yes” box to be listed on the worldwide marrow registry.

James owes his life to that simple act and the generosity behind it. In November 2000, Doctors extracted bone marrow from Klaus’ hip, packed it in dry ice and flew it across the world to Dallas. Baylor doctors performed a successful transplant, and today James is cancer free. Baylor will perform nearly 300 bone marrow transplants this year. About a third of them will involve marrow donated by strangers.

When Klaus was asked if he wanted to meet the person who received his bone marrow, he was thrilled to know his donation had saved a life. As for James, he studied German in night classes so he could travel to Germany to express his gratitude in person. The whole village turned out for his arrival. James and Klaus have become good friends, swapping emails and digital photos, thanks to translation software. And the giving continues. Leveraging his business, which insures entertainers, James started a foundation to raise money for cancer screening and treatment through concerts. It’s raised $1.5 million so far. All because a man in a German village was willing to say “yes.”

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One donor. Eight lives.