Bad Blood into Good After Bone Marrow Transplant
Apr 25, 2017 Cedars-Sinai Staff
Kevin McDevitt was a newlywed 32-year-old when he received a life-changing diagnosis.
After a year of feeling fatigued and finding mysterious bruises on his body, Kevin was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). The life-threatening blood disorders are rare, especially in tandem.
"It's not what you expect in your first year of marriage," says Kevin's bride, Stephanie McDevitt.
"When you get a condition like this, you never know what comes next."
Both conditions affect the blood. While PNH is characterized by the destruction of red blood cells, severe aplastic anemia is a disease in which bone marrow doesn't produce enough blood cells.
Kevin and Stephanie weighed their options. Without a bone marrow transplant, Kevin faced a lifetime of treatments and hospital visits. They decided on a transplant and met with Dr. Michael Lill, director of Cedars-Sinai Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Transplant Program.
Family is often the first source for finding a donor; siblings have a 1 in 4 chance of being a compatible donor. Fortunately for Kevin, his sister was a match. Without her match, Kevin would have been dependent on Be The Match, the national registry for volunteer bone marrow donors.
"You spend a couple of hours at the hospital and after that, you've saved someone's life. It's a pretty good bargain."
Kevin received his transplant on March 11, 2015. Kevin considers this his new birthday—a date he celebrates each year.
"When you get a condition like this, you never know what comes next," says Kevin. On his first transplant "birthday," Kevin and Stephanie decided to quit their jobs, give up their apartment, and travel the world.
Kevin's goal these days is to help spread the message that bone marrow donation saves lives.
"It's a matter of life or death to get people on the registry," Kevin says. "If you get called, you spend a couple of hours at the hospital and after that, you've saved someone's life. It's a pretty good bargain."
Two years later, Kevin's transplant journey has come to end. "Every day fills me with gratitude—I have my health and I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome."