Cancer Survivor Invites Donor Who Saved His Life To Be The Best Man At His Wedding

"He’s the reason I’m still here and get to be married to my best friend."

Groom and best man looking at wedding ring Canva Pro / 00x00 from Getty Images

A man who was given a second chance at life thanks to the generosity of a stem cell donor decided to include him in one of the most special days of his life. When an Iowa man named Ben Clark began planning the details for his wedding, he realized that there was one person who had to be there, and it was the man who saved him.

After being diagnosed with cancer, Clark needed a stem-cell transplant.

In 2010, Ben Clark found himself receiving the scary diagnosis of T-cell lymphoblastic Lymphoma, a rare blood cancer. “It had been August 2010 when I first got diagnosed with Lymphoma,” Clark said, according to KACU. “I had undergone treatment for it. I was in remission and it came back. And that’s when we decided, you know, it was time to maybe look at a transplant.”


Clark ended up partnering with DKMS, an international nonprofit bone marrow donor center based in Tübingen, Germany, with entities in Chile, India, Poland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Halfway around the world, a Swedish man named Jan Rolfes was a match.

Rolfes knew becoming a donor was something he wanted to do from a young age, "A family friend of ours who was also 8 years old, a little bit older than me, like he got Leukemia. And then all the family friends tried, like registered, among them my mom. But unfortunately like he didn’t make it,” Rolfes told the news outlet.


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So when Rolfes got the call that Clark needed a stem-cell donor, he didn't hesitate to agree. "I signed up to the registry and two years later, Ben needed my stem cells."

Clark had been in the middle of planning his wedding when he got the news about the donor match and asked Rolfes to be his best man.

After waiting years to hear back about a stem-cell transplant, it was fitting that the good news would come while he was planning his wedding to his wife, Jayme Clark. It didn't take long before both he and his wife came up with the brilliant idea to invite Rolfes to the wedding and have him be Clark's best man. 


“When I met Ben I knew that that was one of his dreams, was to meet his bone marrow donor. So I tried to find him on my own to invite him to the wedding and the reason I did that was because we knew it was a long shot,” Jayme explained, though little did she know that her husband was also coming up with a plan to have Rolfes attend the ceremony. "I was doing the same thing, I was emailing him and inviting him, telling him we’re engaged, we’re going to be getting married in September [2023] and then he initially sent an email to both of us and said hey look, you know, you both are trying to do the same thing here,” Clark added.

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The plan was just to have Rolfes join them in Iowa for the ceremony, but Clark quickly realized that he actually wanted his stem-cell donor to be his best man. "This is important to him and I want to, I want to make this happen because this was like, I can understand this. Like I was also like curious how his family would be, like who is my recipient actually,” Rolfes admitted.

For Clark, the entire idea of a wedding would've been a distant dream if it weren't for Rolfes' selflessness and desire to help people. "I’m here because of him. And you know, yes it was our special day but initially, he’s the reason I’m still here and get to be married to my best friend. We want people to get on the registry, you can’t have enough people."


Clark and Rolfes' story is a testament to the transformative power that generosity can have and the impact that it leaves on someone's life. But it's also good for the donor, as well. Happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, has explained, “Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably.” 

In honoring the man who gifted him a second chance, Clark proves that sometimes those unseen bonds are what connect us, and we should always embrace the extraordinary possibilities that lie within the simplicity of extending a helping hand.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.