One local woman is alive today thanks to an anonymous bone-marrow donation. She discovered of all the possible donors in the world, hers lives just blocks away.
Last year, the National Bone Marrow Registry called Anne Deschamps saying she matched someone in need. She donated her bone marrow. Recently she agreed to share her contact information with her recipient, Peggy le Blanc. As it turns out, donor and recipient live just minutes apart.
“We're sort of bonded now - she has my DNA,” Deschamps said.
Le Blanc was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a deadly blood cancer, in 2005 when she was 38 years old.
“At diagnosis, 85 percent of my bone marrow was cancerous,” le Blanc said.
“The first thing that flooded my mind was ‘Oh my gosh I'm not even going to get to see my kids go to kindergarten,’” she said. She battled the cancer with medications and chemotherapy for years, going in and out of remission.
In 2009, she stopped responding to the treatments. Johns Hopkins oncologist Ivan Borrello said a bone marrow transplant and more chemotherapy would give her the best chance of surviving.
“The idea was to be as aggressive as possible in her for the definitive therapy, which is why we chose to do a bone marrow transplant,” Dr. Borrello said.
Deschamp's donation saved le Blanc's life. “How do you thank somebody for what they give,” le Blanc wondered.
Le Blanc’s children say Deschamps was brave. “I think she had a lot of courage to do what she did because I wouldn't even do that,” le Blanc’s daughter Caitlin said. “And not a lot of people would do that,” Caitlin’s 6-year-old brother Mason agreed.
Dr. Borrello says le Blanc's cancer could return. If it does, Deschamps could come to the rescue again. Instead of donating bone marrow, she would only need to donate blood.
Both women say they plan to stay connected forever. After all, they're practically neighbors.