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Bar Harbor couple looks for stem cell donor match while expanding donor registry

Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 5:29 PM EST
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BAR HARBOR, Maine (WABI) - The Hancock County community is rallying around a Bar Harbor man as he navigates a rare type of cancer.

Danny Dunn and his wife Hannah are hoping to find a stem cell donor match, not just for Danny, but for anyone who needs a transplant.

“I first started noticing issues with my skin as far back, really, as my childhood. But biopsies showed it as eczema,” said Danny

After nearly a lifetime of skin issues, Danny finally learned the true cause when he was diagnosed with cutaneous t-cell lymphoma in 2017.

Danny says he tried a variety of treatments leading up to last spring, when his doctor found the lymphoma was becoming more aggressive.

“She did a biopsy and it came back as a large cell transformation, which is much more likely to spread to my organs, blood, lymph nodes. That’s really the only curative option for my diseases, the stem cell transplant,” said Danny.

So far, attempts at finding a match have been unsuccessful.

Last month, Hannah started a Facebook page, Swab4Danny, asking everyone to consider joining the National Donor Registry.

She says the process is easy and painless.

“It’s easier than a COVID test, honestly! So you swab, instead of swabbing your nose, you’re just swabbing the inside of your mouth and just putting in an envelope and sending it in and that’s it,” said Hannah.

The Dunns estimate hundreds of people have already answered their call. Some, who have never met them in person.

“The outpouring from the community has been unreal. We’re so thankful for everyone and I know there’s so many families out there they’re also thankful we’re waiting for their match, too,” said Hannah.

“I would like to see the database get flooded. I think there’s been a huge response. It’s giving a lot of people hope, not just us,” said Danny.

2022 is a big year for the Dunns. If everything stays on track and they’re able to find a viable donor, Danny is set to receive a transplant sometime this summer – right around the scheduled arrival of the couple’s first child.

“Because of my immune system I will get out of changing diapers, which might be nice,” joked Danny.

“It’s overwhelming but we have so much awesome support with our family and our friends. So we know that no matter what happens, we’re gonna get through it,” said Hannah.

As the Dunns continue their effort to find a match for Danny and others, they’re holding a couple of in-person donor drives next month.

The first is on March 8 at the Elks Lodge in Ellsworth.

There will be a blood drive and stem cell donor swabbing event from noon until 6.

Then on March 12, they’ll be doing swabbing only from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

That’s also at the Elks Lodge on High Street.

To follow Danny’s journey on Facebook, visit facebook.com/swab4danny.

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