Sue Crowley’s journey with chronic myeloid leukemia has been a roller coaster ride. After being diagnosed in July 2017, doctors prescribed a series of medications that should have put her in remission but didn’t. Eventually, they told her that she needed a stem cell transplant to survive.
A stem cell donor was identified soon after Sue was put on the waiting list. To prepare her body for the transplant, she was given numerous rounds of chemotherapy to wipe out her immune system. But the night before the donor’s procedure, he backed out. “This was upsetting, of course,” Sue says.
Because her body was in such a vulnerable state, an emergency plea for donors was issued. On January 29, 2018, nurses brought in a little pink bag filled with the stem cells Sue so desperately needed. “I was very sick and depleted of all my immune cells at that point,” she says. “The doctors and I crossed our fingers; now we wait and see.”
Unfortunately, the donor’s stem cells didn’t engraft and Sue’s leukemia returned a week later. Doctors asked her donor to return and donate lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. From May to July, Sue received three lymphocyte infusions. “It ultimately put me in remission and saved my life,” she says.
Today, Sue is doing well and is grateful for all the blood and platelet transfusions she received that helped keep her body strong enough to fight cancer. “Every time a bag was hung that I knew was someone else’s blood, I was grateful,” she says. “It was pretty miraculous—a gift, over and over.”
Now, she encourages others to donate blood and save the lives of patients like her. “It seems so obviously easy; it’s a productive thing to do with one hour of your time,” she says. “I’ve learned how valuable it is and how life-changing it is for the recipient.”
People need people, make a difference in someone’s life by donating blood.
We must rely on each other for the gift of blood, and patients in your community rely on the generosity of Versiti’s blood donors to help. Please consider scheduling an appointment to donate. If this is your first time, donating blood is quick, easy and relatively painless. And, it is a great way to give back and help patients in your community.