Duke Patient Meets His Bone Marrow Donor

DURHAM, N.C. — Glen Jernigan will meet his bone marrow donor for the first time on June 20 at the Duke Adult Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Program’s Patient Reunion.

In 2005, Jernigan was diagnosed with aplastic anemia and recalls having more than a hundred blood transfusions before receiving a successful bone marrow transplant to treat the rare blood disorder in 2008.

“I put the transplant off for as long as possible, because at the time my twin boys were 4 years old, and I knew they needed me,” Jernigan said.

He remembers when his doctor, Mitchell Horowitz, told him it was time to have the transplant. He was still worried about how it would impact his wife and sons, but he knew it was the best shot for his healthy future.

The National Marrow Donor Program found a match for Jernigan and he received his first bone marrow transplant. After the first transplant proved unsuccessful, his donor gave bone marrow to him again.

Jernigan is now healthy and recently celebrated his 40th birthday with his family. He is looking forward to meeting the woman who helped make all of this possible.

Duke Adult Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant survivors attend the annual event with their families and share their experiences since transplant. Each year the program arranges for one patient to meet their donor. This year Jernigan has that special honor.

“It will be a very emotional day,” Jernigan said. “I consider her a part of my family.”

“It is remarkable that she would insist on giving to me twice even after she had previously given to another patient,” he said.

Jernigan, a general contractor and developer in Fayetteville, said there are a lot of things that he can fix, but his anemia was not one of them. He attributes his health to his donor.

“I wish there were more people out there like her,” he said. “Everybody hears about people being sick, but you don’t really know what it is like until you go through it yourself. It makes all the difference to have people like her who give to the National Marrow Donor Program.”

“I have been given a second chance,” he said. “I get to see my boys grow up. It’s great being able to work with them on football and basketball and teach them things a father should be able to.”

The Duke Adult Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Program was established in 1984, when Duke began performing autologous transplants. The program was expanded in 1996 to include allogeneic transplants. The program’s multidisciplinary team of more than 70 dedicated professionals creates individualized treatment regimens designed to meet each patient’s unique needs.

To find out more about the National Marrow Donor Program visit: http://www.marrow.org/.