Dwight’s Donation Story

Posted July 2nd, 2012 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories
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Dwight donated peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) in 2000Dwight’s donation story begins in 1991 while working in a hospital laboratory.  After drawing blood from potential donors who wanted to join the Be The Match Registry®, he was inspired to join himself.  Not long after, a cousin with Leukemia required a bone marrow transplant to live. While Dwight was not an HLA match, their family was able to find a match with an unrelated donor on the Be The Match Registry. Dwight, a medical technologist of more than 25 years, was grateful for this stranger’s gift and became hopeful that one day he also could save a life through marrow donation.

The call and family support

It wasn’t until the summer of 2000 that Dwight was called as a potential match for a patient. After completing further confirmatory blood tests, Dwight was told that he was the best possible match for a woman, and that he would be donating peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC)—one of the two methods of donation. “When I was chosen, I wanted to both yell and cry for joy for what I could do for this patient,” said Dwight. Family, friends, church, work—everyone was very supportive of Dwight’s decision to donate.  During his confirmatory blood testing, he tried to lighten the mood by singing, “stem cell man, stem cell man, I wanna be a stem cell man!”  Prior to Dwight’s donation, his colleagues even gave him a “Stem Cell Man” t-shirt to acknowledge the importance of his gift. Dwight was able to bring his family to the donation center to share in the experience and to support him through the donation.

The PBSC donation process

PBSC donation is a nonsurgical procedure (much like donating plasma or blood) that takes place in a blood center or outpatient hospital unit. On the four days leading up to Dwight’s donation and on his donation day, Dwight was given injections of a drug called filgrastim to stimulate stem cell growth. This is a part of all PBSC donations. “On the second day of injections,” said Dwight, “I could actually feel the stem cells multiplying!”

During the PBSC donation, Dwight’s blood was removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separated out the blood-forming cells. Dwight’s remaining blood was returned through his other arm. Typically, a donor’s blood-forming cells are back to their normal levels within 4 to 6 weeks.

Dwight’s message to registry members

“Don’t lose hope that you might donate some day,” said Dwight. “It may never come, it may come tomorrow—but it’s important to keep your contact information updated so you can be contacted if you’re a match.”


Editor’s note:
The patient who received Dwight’s stem cells passed away just under a year after her transplant. Dwight still sees his donation as a positive experience today because he was able to give the patient hope and time. He would donate again in a heartbeat.

Click here to read Dwight’s brother, Ray’s donation story.

3 Responses to “Dwight’s Donation Story”

  1. Karen Haury says:

    My sister was diagnosed in April 1989 on our mother’s birthday. She didn’t tell us until two days later because the following day was another month since my grandmother was gone. Dec. 1990 my sister surprised us a couple days before Christmas and gave Mom, Dad and Sister (Me) a box and inside we each had a surgical mask. Mom was in tears she knew something was going on the way sis had been. Her transplant was on March 16 1991 and she is still alive now over 21 years. After the 20 years she had a party to celebrate. Unfortunately, Mom and Dad are deceased and couldn’t be there but they were watching from above.

  2. Karen Haury says:

    Dwight, I forgot to tell you she had met her donor and she keeps in touch with her. She and her husband came to the party. The family had met her and other family members a little more than a year after her transplant.

    • Dwight Johnson says:

      Karen,

      My apology for taking so long to reply! I haven’t looked at this for a long time and did so today as I’ll be speaking in a couple of weeks to a group about stem cell donation. SO GLAD to hear that your sister is doing well DECADES after receiving her transplant. Thanks for your comments.

      Blessings,
      Dwight

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