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Release: Nov. 9, 1999

Nov. 12 reunion set for bone marrow transplant donors, recipients

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The second annual reunion of blood and marrow transplantation donors and recipients is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 12 in the Iowa Memorial Union (IMU) on the University of Iowa campus. The reunion will feature a pair of first-ever meetings between two transplant patients and their donors.

One of the transplant patients is Gwen Crockett Easter of Valdosta, Ga. Easter was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia in June 1990. She received her transplant at the Santa Rosa Children's Hospital in San Antonio, Texas in April 1992. The bone marrow was harvested from her donor, Debra Cook of Indianola, Iowa at the UI Hospitals and Clinics and transported to San Antonio. Easter married her husband, Paul, in 1998. She will meet Cook for the first time at the reunion.

"I'm ecstatic about meeting Debbie after seven years and being able to thank her in person for saving my life," Easter said. "It's going to be a special day. I have looked forward to meeting Debbie for years."

The other transplant recipient is two-year-old Aubree Dunn of Iowa City. Her donor, Tom Sandersfeld of Marengo, Iowa, donated marrow twice for Aubree, first in 1997 and again in 1998. They will also meet for the first time at the reunion.

The theme of the reunion is "Celebrating Life." Roger Gingrich, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Adult Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program at the UI Hospitals and Clinics, will deliver an opening address.

"We will be celebrating the gift of life, given and received, with our patients and donors," Gingrich said. "They are all true heroes and their stories are all inspiring and touching. This reunion is certainly an emotion-filled, very special event."

The reunion will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Main Lounge on the first floor of the IMU.

(NOTE TO EDITORS: For assistance in covering this event, contact Tom Moore at (319) 356-3945.)

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.