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September 02, 2014
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‘The true Santa Claus’: A once-in-a-lifetime Christmas gift from Mr. Claus


Six months after receiving the transplant, much to their surprise, James and Barbara learned that they would be allowed to write an anonymous letter to the bone marrow donor. But according to the rules, the letter could not include any personal information about themselves. The letter was first sent to the donor bank, where it was read and found to be acceptable, and then it was forwarded on. A few months later, the couple got a response. The bone marrow bank called with the donor’s information. His name? Chris Claus. Three days before Christmas, Mr. Claus had given James the gift of life.

James emailed Chris and the two began a weekly email correspondence. They realized they had a lot in common—same blood type, played Little League, liked the outdoors, around the same age, married to Scorpios, recently moved out of state and loved dogs. Barbara was in contact with Chris’s fiancée, Hang, and they planned a surprise for Chris: to show up at the Claus’s wedding.

So, in July 2012 Barbara and James flew to California and met Chris for the first time at his wedding. It was also an opportunity for Chris’s friends and family to learn about the gift that he gave. James and Barbara call him “the true Santa Claus.”

James and Barbara moved to Damascus, PA in September and James will celebrate his third “birthday” in February.

[It’s easy to give the gift of life. To become a bone marrow donor, visit marrow.org to learn how.]

[Every once in a while you hear a story about someone who gave or received a life-changing gift during the year-end holiday season. The River Reporter is looking for an individual with just such a heart-warming personal story to share. We are calling this feature “A Gift from the Heart,” and we want to tell several of these stories in our newspaper during December. If you are someone with such a story to share or know someone, kindly contact jbollinger@riverreporter.com or call 845/252-7414, ext. 29. Join us in celebrating the joy of the season with our readers.]