NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A German couple visited the United States for the first time ever this summer, and there’s a special reason their first stop was New Orleans. Christian Erdwich’s bone marrow changed the life of a 16-year-old Belle Chasse girl five years ago. Since then, the families have been related – literally by blood.
Troy Remy showed Christian around the city, to the French Quarter, across the Mississippi River on a ferry, and of course, for a ride on the Streetcar.
“They let us sleep in their house and showed us everything. It’s amazing what they do for us,” Christian said.
But what Christian did for Troy’s daughter, was life-saving.
“When someone in Germany goes in a clinic and give his bone marrow for someone they don't know, take time off work to save a life. It's incredible,” Troy said.
In May of 2013, Barrett Remy was diagnosed with Mylodysplasia, or MDS, which is a rare precursor to Leukemia. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was the perfect place for Barrett, where she’d undergo chemo radiation and a bone marrow transplant.
“There’s so many children at St. Jude that don’t find a match,” Troy said. “It’s unfortunate.”
Erdwich was 23 at the time and on a donor list in Nuremberg, Germany. He ended up being Barrett’s perfect match.
“Someone was standing at the bedside of Christian, took the bone marrow, and had [it[ delivered at [Barrett’s] bedside in 24 hours,” Troy said.
Christian had no idea that one act would save such a young life.
“I can't believe I saved the life of a person,” he said. “It was luck I was a match for a person out in the world. But yeah, I don't know what I can say. It's unbelievable for me.”
A couple of years later, Barrett met Christian under the Eiffel Towel. Their bond was set for life.
“I call her my blood sister, she calls me her blood brother. It’s nice,” Christian said.
The Remy family traveled to Christian’s wedding in Germany, and then, the Remys hosted Christian and his new wife here.
“This is our first time here in America, we’re so excited about that,” Christian said.
Barrett and her blood brother posed for pictures in the park, and all around town. And Barrett brought him to take pictures in front of the LSU Nursing School, where she is now a student.
“The outcome has been fantastic,” Troy said. “She’s back to her old self, it’s amazing the modern medicine that brought us together.”
For Christian, seeing Barrett healthy and happy is the best reward he could ask for.
“I’m so lucky I can do something for another person, and I’m lucky to see her getting well, continuing studying in school and make a life. That’s enough for me,” he said.
Although this journey is one no parent wants to go through, Troy said he feels blessed for the way it went.
“When you first find out your child has cancer, there’s no instruction manual,” Troy said. “St. Jude told us what to do and they brought Christian into our life in a roundabout way.”
And Christian said he’s coming back to New Orleans and the families will try to see each other again soon.
“They’d like to go to Naples next year, and we will try to meet them there,” he said. “The family has gotten bigger now, since that day.”