20 years later, donor and recipient repeat stem cell transplant

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on March 19, 2014 at 8:05 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 19 at 8:20 PM

DALLAS — Though he feels a little weary, Drew Harrison has a strong story of survival.

“That was probably the hardest thing in the world — to convince me that I was relapsed,” Harrison said.

A bone marrow transplant in 1994 saved Harrison’s life. But the Dallas resident hadn’t counted on needing it saved a second time.

“At one point in time, I had almost given up. She and my other daughters kept trying to convince me that even though I’m older, that I had years left,” he said.

"She" is Michele Tanner of Longview, the donor the first time around. When Tanner heard Harrison needed her again, 20 years later, she had an immediate answer.

“I told him whatever we needed to do, we’d get it done,” Tanner said.

And that’s what they did Wednesday, with drip after drip of the life-saving stem cells from Tanner’s bone marrow feeding into Harrison’s arm.

When Tanner first donated her marrow to Harrison, the procedure required a long hospital stay. Today, it’s done on an outpatient basis.

It’s the only cure, according to Harrison’s doctor, who was involved in both transplants.

“[It's] unusual after all that time doing well [to need another transplant], but sometimes it happens,” said Dr. Luis Pineiro from Baylor Medical Center, where both transplants were performed.

It’s not likely, but if it ever happened again?

Michele Tanner seems the type who’d gladly walk with Harrison down that road again.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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