Bart Dunn – Celebrating 20 Years as a Leukemia Survivor!

There is a very special moment when a bone marrow transplant patient starts receiving the transplanted cells. Stem cells course through the IV line into the patient’s bloodstream, heading for the bone marrow where they will literally re-start the body’s production of blood, the stuff of life.

So it’s fitting that when that moment arrives, the staff of the hospital’s bone marrow transplant unit crowd into the patient’s room with balloons and sing happy birthday. It is truly a re-birth of life.

Bart Dunn Leukemia Bone Marrow Transplant Patient

Twenty years ago, Bart Dunn had a bone marrow transplant at the Emory Bone Marrow & Stem Cell Transplant Center with donor cells from his identical twin brother Steven. He was only 35 at the time, working in his family’s century-old manufacturing business in North Carolina.

Diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) at a hospital near his home, Bart was told the best bone marrow transplant (BMT) experts were at the Emory Winship Cancer Institute. He came here needing immediate chemotherapy and radiation treatments to bring his white blood cell count down. It was a long haul before he was well enough to have the transplant. His long-time companion, Patrick, and family members stayed by his side through that very difficult period. For ten days, Bart ran fevers of 105 and says God performed a miracle in bringing him back from the brink.

Bart marked that life-changing moment by giving Winship a plaque commemorating his transplant and recovery. He is now working on a book that recounts his experience.

After Bart’s bone marrow transplant and treatments came to an end, Patrick’s sister, Angie, made a beautiful quilt with figures from the Noah’s Ark story to signify Bart’s new life and new beginning. Bart’s official 20-year anniversary was Feb. 9 this year. He returned to Emory Bone Marrow & Stem Cell Transplant Center in April for a check-up with Dr. Tom Heffner, and was greeted with a surprise party. Robin LaRocco, nurse coordinator in the bone marrow transplant department, orchestrated the event and members of the BMT team joined the celebration, including several who were here when Bart had his transplant. He invited Winship staffers to sign the quilt that symbolizes his cancer journey.

“It was a very long and difficult journey, but I’m so thankful that I made it through,” said Mr. Dunn.

And for the Emory BMT staff (pictured with Bart below) who specialize in providing the kind of individual care needed during the transplant process, nothing is more gratifying than seeing a former patient doing so well twenty years later.

Bone marrow transplant leukemia

Bart Dunn pictured with the Emory Bone Marrow Transplant Team.

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