They spent their lives more than 500 miles apart and should never really have had any reason to meet.
But Brett Grist from Devon will always have a special bond with Argyll resident David McInnes – because the Lochgilphead man saved his life.
And now, Mr Grist has travelled the length of Britain to meet the donor who came to his rescue when he was diagnosed with leukaemia.
Mr Grist, from Teignmouth, was told in May 2014 he had acute myeloid leukaemia and, after relapsing following three cycles of chemotherapy, was told a stem cell transplant would be his best chance of survival.
That came from Mr McInnes, who joined the Anthony Nolan stem cell register in his teens after a family member of a friend needed a transplant.
Mr Grist received his transplant in October 2015 and, after a long recovery, is now healthy and well. The two men exchanged anonymous letters for two years
Mr Grist said: “I was waiting for the two years to go past so we could meet.
“It was really important to me to be able to say thank you. Without David my kids would have grown up without a father.”
After their meeting last week, Mr McInnes said: “The first couple of minutes were a little bit overwhelming because there was so much anticipation.
“I knew it was going to be emotional. I know how much it meant to his family but I’m now looking forward to becoming friends and getting to know his family more. Everybody says these lovely things about how I saved Brett’s life and I understand, but, at the end of the day, I didn’t do much more than give blood.”
Mr McInnes now works for the fire service and is involved in their partnership with Anthony Nolan, which has now recruited over 10,000 potential donors.
Amy Bartlett, regional development manager for Scotland, said: “David did an incredibly selfless thing by donating his stem cells and it’s wonderful to see Brett doing so well. To see the joy he and his family experienced, meeting the donor who provided his life-saving stem cells, is a really special moment and I wish them all the best.”
The partnership has already resulted in 28 people donating their stem cells, Mr Grist and Mr McInnes are the first pair who have been able to meet.