A Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Survivor Meets Her Life-Saving Donor

According to a story from Newswise, Holly Becker was only 24 years old when she was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. However, her life was saved with a stem cell transplant that utilized umbilical cord blood from Patrick Davey. Twenty-five years into the future, donor and cancer survivor had the opportunity to meet for the first time. While donations are customarily kept anonymous, Patrick and Holly were able to connect circumstantially thanks to a DNA test.

About Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a group of blood cancers that, in some cases, can grow rapidly. This cancer affects a type of white blood cell called a lymphocyte. As non-Hodgkin lymphoma can include any type of lymphoma that is not Hodgkin’s lymphoma, they probably have diverse array of causes. Risk factors for the development of these cancers include infections by certain viruses and bacteria, exposure to chemicals such as herbicides, prior autoimmune diseases, prior radiation or chemotherapy, and some genetic conditions. Symptoms may include itching, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, fever, weight loss, and night sweats. Treatment often includes chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, and, less commonly, immunotherapy. The five year survival rate for these cancers is around 71 percent in the US. To learn more about non-Hodgkin lymphoma, click here.

Holly and Patrick’s Story

The two met at a press conference that took place at Loyola Medicine, which is located near the Chicago area. Before undergoing stem cell transplant, things weren’t looking good for Holly. She received powerful chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but the cancer was still able to spread to her bone marrow, spleen, and liver. After her final round of treatment, the cancer was wiped out, but so was Holly’s immune system.

A stem cell transplant would be critical to getting her immune system back up and running again. The transplant, conducted using Patrick’s umbilical cord blood, was a success.

Both Patrick’s mother and Holly opted for a consumer DNA test. Holly conducted the test out of curiosity about her ancestry, whereas Ms. Davey was adopted and hoped that the test could help connect her with her biological family. The test determined that the two women were a mother-daughter match, which was of course impossible.

The women got in touch with each other and Holly suggested that the umbilical cord blood donation must have been the reason for the match. A second test confirmed that Ms. Davey’s DNA sample and the DNA from the cord blood were identical.

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