Originally created 04/17/99

Donor gives child special gift



The man who has saved your life is ordered to remain anonymous for a year.

Then, you meet for the first time at a party.

While it could easily be the plot from a novel or sitcom, that meeting was a reality for 12-year-old Dana Dimsdale who met her bone-marrow donor -- a U.S. Air Force captain who traveled from Albuquerque, N.M., to attend the first anniversary of the girl's recovery.

At the celebration held at the North Augusta Community Center with dozens of family members and friends, Capt. Chris Kinne met the recipient of his life-saving gift after following the National Bone Marrow Registry rule that orders patients and donors not to meet for a year.

"I came here because I had to be here for the family," Capt. Kinne said, adding that the two exchanged photos and spoke on the phone a couple of weeks ago.

In 1994, Dana was diagnosed with leukemia. After undergoing two years of treatment at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital, her family celebrated when doctors said the disease had gone into remission.

It wasn't a year before it relapsed and Dana, 7 years old at the time, found herself in the fight for her life again.

"Having a child with cancer fighting for her life for four years is very emotional. It's an emotional roller coaster," said Dana's mother, Sandra Dimsdale, adding that Dana, an only child, had no siblings to consider as donors. "I'm a single parent. She's it."

The donor registry found a match in Capt. Kinne, who donated blood while he was stationed at the Pentagon and said he agreed to a bone marrow donation without much thought that day.

"Three years later, out of the blue, they called saying that there might be a match," said Capt. Kinne, who is also a father of a 2-year-old daughter. His wife, who is expecting another child in less than a month, was unable to spend the weekend with the Dimsdales.

Dana, who was a pupil at North Augusta Middle School, has received home schooling for the past year.

And in addition to eating salad and strawberries again, returning to her schoolmates will be her sign that she is well again.

Clarissa J. Walker can be reached at (706) 828-3851 or cjwalker@augustachronicle.com.