Just a few years ago, Olympic gold medalist and leukemia survivor, Earl Young hosted his first bone marrow drive at Abilene Christian University. Years later, one ACU graduate student, Landa Dowdy, was able to save a stranger’s life.
On Oct. 13, 2017 Dowdy was introduced to Dustin Santoni, a 34-year-old, Arizona man who was once dying from leukemia.
During their introduction, they both said they felt overwhelmed with emotion.
Dowdy participated in the bone marrow drive where she simply had her cheek swabbed, and one day, she received a call that she was a match.
She said, “I started crying a little bit, but I knew it was something I had to do.”
What she didn’t know was, at the time, doctors were telling Santoni there was a percent he was going to die.
“I was told by almost every doctor that I went to, every single doctor that I went to, that there was a percent that I was going to die,” Santoni added, “You know I never really thought that I’m gnna go. I’m not going to leave this world. So I was like let’s go.”
But it was the Earl Young Team and DKMS program that provided this chance for Santoni to live a healthy lifestyle again.
“Landa was my only match in the whole database. She was my only 10 out of 10 match,” Santoni said.
Dowdy said registering to be a bone marrow donor is the right thing to do but it did take a temporary tole on her body.
“It was tough for the first week. I needed to be back for school like two days later. Walking was difficult for the first two days and then, several days after that, I had no energy, because your body is having to replenish the bone marrow,” Dowdy said.
Even though her recovery was painful and delicate, and the surgery was stressful for her family, she said she’d do it again.
“Now, I think originally I thought maybe not because it was kind of a process that’s a little scary. But now that I got to like meet the person and know that I was the only one, that if I’d said no that he probably wouldn’t be here then I think I would say yes.”