Anna Pettyjohn, BHS Class of 2008, Stem Cell Donor at VCU

Anna was a stem cell donor Thursday, March 29th, 2012 at VCU, Richmond. She did the cheek swab last spring at William & Mary and was called as a potential donor from the National Marrow Donor Program last October, 2011. She went through further blood work and was determined to be a perfect match for a 42 year-old international man with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Time passed and she didn't hear much until mid January when she was told that they did not need her at that time. Then in mid-February, 2012 she was called and told that they wanted her to be a marrow donor in March, 2012 if all went well. She had an extensive check-up with a chest x-ray and EKG, much blood work, banked a unit of her own blood, and all went well. The procedure was much shorter than expected - it took only 40 minutes to take 1.2 liters of bone marrow from 2 incisions in her pelvic bone. She was under general anesthesia. Dr. Harold Chung and the PA, Rick Edwards did the surgery. They were AWESOME.  Dr. Chung said that it had been a long time since they had such a successful harvesting, probably because of her age and good health. The courier spoke all Spanish and flew out the next morning. We were told that the recipient would receive her marrow within 60-72 hours. We didn't realize that not only will he get her marrow, stem cells, etc, but her healthy immune system will overpower his sick one. On the evening after donating, Anna stayed on the bone marrow wing as the only donor, with all other patients being recipients. She was treated like royalty! She had some pain and was very tired. She needed Percocet Saturday and then switched to Tylenol on Sunday.

Anna went back to William & Mary on Sunday, and was back in class on Monday. It has been an wonderful, yet scary experience for her and us. She has been the bravest of us all with such a positive attitude. (She was deathly afraid of needles - since she was young but isn't now!) We hope and pray that the recipient will thrive. She will be informed of his progress. She said that she probably will not be able to find out his identity for 2 years, since he is international.

Here's a link to a "Campus Celebrity" interview with Anna at William and Mary

Anna and her donated stem cells:

Information on how to "Be The Match" and be a donor to possibly save someone's life can be found at the National Marrow Donor Program.

More information about peripheral blood stem cell and bone marrow transplants at VCU can be found here.

Information about peripheral blood stem cell and bone marrow transplants at UVA can be found here.

Thanks to Anna's mom, Terri Pettyjohn, for providing this information about Anna!
Congratulations to Anna, who will graduate from William & Mary in spring 2012.

From Larry Lewis: My personal thanks to Anna. One day, I may be the recipient of someone's stem cells. It is one of the treatments
used for Mantle Cell Lymphoma which I have had since May, 2009.  I am thankful for brave and kind people like Anna who make donor transplants possible,
and give others, even strangers, another chance at life.