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Bone marrow donor meets baby ‘born without an immune system,’ whose life he saved

Jacob Oswald and Alle Jilg

OMAHA, Neb. — An Iowa man turned a little pain and a short hospital stay into a miracle that saved a Nebraska baby’s life.

The bone marrow donation was in February. On Friday, May 31, the donor and recipient met at the Buffett Cancer Center.

“She was basically born without an immune system,” said Alle Jilg’s mom, Tia Jilg.

Just seven days after Alle was born, she was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder.

“The common cold could potentially be fatal for her,” said Tia Jilg.

The Jilgs immediately applied for a bone marrow transplant and made the long trek to Omaha from Broken Bow.

Meanwhile, in Dubuque, Iowa, Jacob Oswald got a phone call.

“Seven years go by, and you completely forget that I was even part of the registry,” said Oswald.

Oswald was Alle’s match. After a few rounds of blood work and a checkup, he was off to the hospital.

“Pretty minor,” he said. “A couple of incisions in the back and off I went.”

Since he first signed up as a donor, Oswald said he never really knew who his bone marrow would help.

“It wasn’t until I came out of surgery did I find out it was for a baby girl,” said Oswald.

He met that baby girl for the first time on Friday, and said if given a second chance, he would sign up to be a donor all over again.

Alle’s parents said it was unbelievable that Alle found Jacob.

Alle’s body can fight off germs now, but she still has to be careful. She can’t play in the grass, sand or dirt and a nurse visits the home every few weeks to check on her.

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