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Patient receives stem cells from daughter

IU Health University Hospital

Patient receives stem cells from daughter

He’s smiling. Douglas Haywood is glad to have company and he’s glad to be celebrating his recent stem cell transplant.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

The day after IU Health updated guidelines for visitor restrictions, Douglas Haywood made a phone call. It was to his wife of nearly 40 years.

He chokes up as he remembers that phone call.

“I called Donna in tears and I said, ‘Will you please come and sit with me?’” said Haywood, 61. He was admitted to IU Health University Hospital on January 8th at a time when visitors were restricted. On January 19th, IU Health updated visitor guidelines to help patients remain connected to their loved ones. Patients who are not positive for or suspected to have COVID-19 can have one visitor per a day. All visitors (18 and older) are screened for COVID-19.

Within 24 hours, Haywood’s wife was on the road from their Fort Wayne home to visit her husband. He said it was exactly the cheer he needed on his road to recovery.

Two years ago Haywood visited his family physician for blood work. His father had been diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). Haywood wanted to monitor his health for the cancer of the blood and bone marrow. His results indicated he had CLL and Lymphoma, a cancer that infected his immune system.

He began two rounds of chemotherapy. When the cancer became more aggressive his doctors in Fort Wayne looked at alternative treatments. A stem cell transplant seemed to be the best option.

Haywood and his wife are parents to three daughters, Elizabeth Black, 28, and twins Rachel and Rebecca Haywood, 24. His oldest daughter became his transplant donor.

“We had a perfect match off the donor registry but when I drove down from Fort Wayne, the donor was no longer a viable candidate,” said Haywood, who is in the care of IU Health Dr. Sherif Farag, and Dr. Jennifer Schwartz.

Black arrived in the early morning hours of January 14th. For nearly six hours she was in a room separated from her father, donating life-saving stem cells.

“With visitors restrictions, I couldn’t see her on the day she donated,” said Haywood. “I understand the restrictions are for the safety of patients and staff, but it was tough being away from my family.” With Black at his bedside recently, Haywood joked about raising three daughters. “I tried to teach them not to color their hair and get tattoos,” he said referring to Black’s pink hair and ink on her arm.

Black described her decision to be a stem cell donor like this:

“Our dad has always been there for us. We had a great childhood taking vacations together and he was always feeding us that adult knowledge and answering questions and meeting our needs,” said Black. “I am so happy I was able to do this for him. People tell me how proud they are of me and I tell them I didn’t even think about it. I just did it.”

Since his transplant, Haywood’s numbers are improving and he said he’s feeling stronger every day. “I am so grateful for my wife, my family, the IU Health staff, and the prayers and support from our church and our neighbors,” said Haywood.

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