Bone Marrow Recipient Tells His Story Of Recovery

Reporter: Shannon Samson

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

Someone who's been through a bone marrow transplant says Officer Shroer is probably going through the worst of his ordeal with the chemo.

Dusty Jourdan, 21-years-old, had a bone marrow transplant last year and it went so well, he's back on the pitcher's mound for USI's baseball team.

Dusty Jourdan didn't have leukemia like Officer Shroer. He had aplastic anemia, a rare but extremely serious disorder that happens when the bone marrow fails to produce blood cells. Dusty's best shot at beating it was a bone marrow transplant, as long as a suitable donor could be found. 

As a pitcher for USI's baseball team, Dusty had always been in great shape. So when he started to feel tired all the time and short of breath, he was shocked to find out he had aplastic anemia.

He says, "I was relieved that it wasn't leukemia, and then they told me I had to have a bone marrow transplant anyway."

At the time, friends and family met to find out how to raise money for Dusty's medical bills, while the search was on for a suitable bone marrow donor. Luckily, he didn't have to look far.

Dusty's Brother Jeremy Jourdan says, "It started with me and, luckily, that's where it had to end. It was just one of those things. We got lucky."

Under anesthesia, doctors insert a large bore needle into the top of the donor's pelvis and remove a quantity of bone marrow. The process is repeated until about a pint is collected.

"Very little soreness, very little at all for about two weeks. I was worn out. I was tired. I got tired very quickly, but outside of that, no. It was painless and easy," Jeremy says of the procedure.

To transplant the marrow, the fluid is simply transfused into a vein and the marrow migrates to the recipient's bone cavities. Dusty says that part was easy, it was the intensive chemotherapy leading up to it that was hard."You have to sit in isolation, like, I had to sit for a month in isolation. That was probably the worst part of it. Not so much waiting or anything like it, it was being alone for that long."

But a few months later, he was back on the mound. And now, he says he feels just as good as he did before the diagnosis. His older brother is feeling pretty good too. Jeremy says, "If I could do it again, I would. It's not hard."

Aplastic anemia is easier to cure with a bone marrow transplant than acute leukemia. AML patients usually start out with just chemotherapy and have an 80 percent chance of going into complete remission, but only a 40 percent chance of maintaining it.

For patients who continue to relapse like Officer Shroer, a bone marrow transplant is done to try to cure the disease once and for all. It is considered experimental.