More than 400 patients who’ve received bone marrow or blood stem cell transplants through the University of Iowa Hospitals will meet the donors today (Friday) in Iowa City.
Colleen Chapleau, associate director of the Iowa Marrow Donor Program, says the event is the eighth annual “Celebrating Life” reunion. Chapleau says patients and donors come together to talk about what they’ve been through and to encourage each other.
Some patients are only six months out from their transplants and can rub shoulders with others who are 20 years out and still doing fine. She says it’s inspiring. Often the term “transplant donor” conjures an image of someone who’s died and is having an organ harvested — but Chapleau says that’s not accurate in this special group. These are living donors who’ve donated blood stem cells or marrow, something any healthy person can do as Iowa’s part of a national program which she calls “truly life-saving.”
Chapleau says today’s reunion (1-5 P.M.) will bring together patients, donors, family members and staff from the U-of-I’s Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center.
She says one woman who was diagnosed last year with acute leukemia is flying in from Atlanta to meet, for the first time, the woman donor from Iowa who made her transplant possible, helping pave her road to recovery.