Firefighter Meets Girl He Saved in a Miracle Donor Match


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10:08 PM EST, January 25, 2012



There were tears and hugs at FDNY headquarters, where a little Iowa girl met the firefighter who saved her life three years ago.

James Wildes, 37, a former police officer who switched to the Fire Department nine years ago, didn't rush into a burning building to rescue 6-year-old Alise Williams.

He gave selflessly in another way. He donated bone marrow for a transplant she desperately needed to survive a rare genetic blood disorder called Fanconi anemia.

"If it wasn't for this man, she wouldn't be here today," said the child's tearful father, Troy Williams.

The family flew in from their home in Evansdale, Iowa to meet Wildes at a ceremony in which Wildes and five fellow firefighters were added to the "Honor Role of Life" as department bone marrow donors.

Alise was facing odds of 1-in-20,000 to find a donor. Firefighter Wildes was a perfect match.

"It's above and beyond a miracle. I know God was watching,"said Alise's mother, Debra Williams

The brave first grader made it through two open heart surgeries before her second birthday. They were to fix a congenital defect doctors believe was related to the anemia.

"There's no way to express her courage. She's been through so much," said Alise's 12-year-old brother, C.J. Williams.

Alise received the transplant at the University of Minnesota on February 4, 2009, after Wildes, a father of two, donated his marrow at the New York Blood Center.

"Definitely worth the pain, not even a question," said Wildes. "I'd do it again if I had to."