Health Team

Leukemia survivor meets bone marrow donor at Duke

Posted October 29, 2011

— Four years ago, Linda Davis was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.

On Saturday, she got a surprise visit from the man who saved her life at the Duke University Medical Center's annual reunion for blood and bone marrow transplant survivors.

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him," Davis said. "'Thank you' is not enough."

Davis and her donor, Ryan Duhnam, email and text nearly every day, but they hadn't met in person until Saturday.

When Davis stood up to share her survival story in the ballroom of the Washington Duke in Durham, she had no idea that Duhnam was in the back row, waiting for the surprise to be announced. 

Linda Davis Transplant survivor meets donor at special Duke reunion

Duhnam signed up to donate his bone marrow after a co-worker's daughter was diagnosed with cancer. He was 22 and living in Ohio when the call came saying that a patient in Durham wasn't responding to chemotherapy and needed his help.

He didn't hesitate.

"I just donated what I needed to," he said. "I don't think that I did anything special. I just did what I would want anyone else to do for me or my family."

"And I've gotten a really good friend," Duhnam added.

For Davis, the gift means so much more.

"He feels great about being so generous and doing a good deed," Davis said. "But for me, it was my life."


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  • nyy3015 Oct 31, 2011

    Stem Cell Donation rarely involves pain/discomfort. Cells are obtained in a fashion not unlike blood donation. In rare situations they are obtained in an operation.....This gift is truly selfless and awesome.

  • storchheim Oct 31, 2011

    Marrow donation is painful and not without risks. What a humble, selfless man. The recipient has a wonderful attitude of gratitude.

  • Here2tellya Oct 31, 2011

    This is what "Giving" is all about. Beautiful story.

  • angelienna Oct 31, 2011

    Mr Dunham is both giving, kind and humble. What a blessing to have people like this in the world. We never know when we might need our own version of Mr Dunham...