Separated by an ocean, connected by transplant: bone marrow recipient meets donor at Gopher game

Once appearing in a viral video with Coach Fleck, Kyle Tanner met the donor on the field

Susie Jones
October 08, 2019 - 2:19 pm

A heart warming reunion at TCF Bank Stadium during Saturday's homecoming for the Golden Gophers.

Two years ago, Children's Hospital patient Kyle Tanner was featured in a viral video on Coach P. J. Fleck's Twitter where he helped give a scholarship to Gophers red shirt senior Justin Junneman using a T-shirt cannon. Six months before that, Kyle had a bone marrow transplant at Masonic that saved his life.

Then on Saturday, Kyle had a chance to meet his donor, on the field.  

"You saved my life," Kyle said, hugging Manuel Suilmann, who is from Germany, and much taller than Kyle.

Tanner has Fanconi anemia and needed a bone marrow transplant.  Suilmann was listed on the registry at "Be the Match" based here in Minnesota.

The young German actually made two donations to Kyle.

"I feel good," Kyle told Manuel, as the talked together on the field.

"The transplant did not cure me of Fanconi anemia; it’s a terminal illness, but it certainly has given me many more years and has prevented that leukemia from happening," he said.

 Kyle and Manuel both encouraged people to sign up to be bone marrow donors as it is easy, they say and it saves lives.

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