Aberdeen millionaire and the German baker who saved his life

Eric Evans (left) with his "hero" bone marrow donor Axel Drewes
Eric Evans (left) with his "hero" bone marrow donor Axel Drewes
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A MAN who made his millions in the “gold rush” days of the 1970s North Sea oil boom has spoken of his biggest acquisition - finding the blood donor who has twice saved his life.

Eric Evans may have fulfilled his ambitions of a million pounds, a gold Rolls Royce and a personal number plate by the age of 28, but he admits his perspective on life was turned on its head after being diagnosed with blood cancer at the age of 47.

I just love life. I don’t want it to be boring, I don’t want it to be black and white. I want it to be colourful.

Eric Evans, former oil tycoon and author

As his life hung in the balance, work was being done to find the man who could save him with a bone marrow match.

Five hundred miles away in Meinheim in Germany, a young baker called Axel Drewes was to become that person.

Mr Drewes had put himself forward as a potential donor after a young girl in his community desperately sought a donor.

Instead, Mr Drewes was to be the man to save Eric Evans’ life.

Mr Evans said: “He calls me my genetic twin and I call him my hero.

“My body lives and breathes cells which have come from his body. I am completely humbled by his generosity.

“We have this incredibly close relationship, he is like a brother, I am simply alive because of him and what he has done for me is absolutely tremendous.

“The day that he had his cells harvested his wife gave birth to their first child. He just said, ‘it’s ok, we just gave like to two people that day.”

Two years after the first transplant, Mr Evans met Axel and his wife in Marbella to say thank you.In 2014, he was called upon again to share his life saving cells.

The pair have forged a profound friendship and have met several times, most recently in London so they could both attend the launch of Mr Evans’ memoir - Diamonds for Rice - at Waterstones in Picadilly.

It has taken Mr Evans over a decade to write – and he will donate 45 per cent of the proceeds to blood cancer charities Anthony Nolan and Delete Blood Cancer UK.

Mr Evans decided to write his life story so that his two daughters, one who lives in Aberdeen and the other in Perthshire, could fully understand his life’s exploits.

He arrived in Aberdeen from Norfolk aged just 20 and described the city as “buzzing”

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“I can only describe Aberdeen as Scotland’s equivalent of the goldrush. The city was buzzing, and I was on fire as a resident ‘Mr Fixit’.

“Oil and service companies were flooding the city with people and equipment. By the age of twenty-four, I had seven years of experience in the oil industry.

“You had to be in Aberdeen at the time to believe it. My time had come. I was in the right place at the right time with the right people doing the right things. Day was the same as night; nothing stopped, and I was there to meet an insatiable demand.”

He opened Champers nightclub on Union Street, invested in a radio station and cruised the streets in his willow gold Rolls emblazoned with the number plate ESE 1.

After selling up his businesses, Mr Evans relocated to Liberia after buying into a logging business.

It was a move that plunged him into the heart of the country’s brutal civil war and after deciding he had to flee the country he eventually bought his way out after giving a bag of rice to a group of children in return for a handful of diamonds.

He also survived the Orly airport bombing in 1983, Mr Evans said.

Mr Evans has since been declared bankrupt but remains unbeaten, he added.

He added: “I dreamt so big, I didn’t have any limitations. I just love life, I don’t want it to be boring, I don’t want black and white. I want it to be colourful.

“My books means so much to me and it is giving something back to Anthony Nolan for all they have done.”

The book coincides with the launch of Mr Evans’ Donors are Diamonds campaign which aims to find more bone marrow donors, who can now be identified through a simple saliva test.

“Donors like Axel are diamonds – precious and hard to find. Our campaign, I am sure, will uncover more of these gems. We must raise vital funds for Anthony Nolan and Delete Blood Cancer UK, so that they can find more diamonds like Axel.

“I could have died without my daughters knowing anything about my life. I dedicate my book to them and my friend, double donor Axel - without him the story would have ended a long time ago.”

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