Over the past years, Jeannie and her siblings have enjoyed regular visits and family reunions...She is healthy and grateful to be part of a large, loving family.
Family bonds run deep and in mysterious ways. After a 30-year separation, Jeannie Whitman’s reconnection with her siblings was joyous and lifesaving.
As a young woman in the early 1960’s, Jeannie left her home in Iowa to create a new life in California. Her departure from Iowa resulted in her drifting away from family and eventually losing contact with them. Although there were attempts over the years by her family to locate her, they had been unsuccessful. Jeannie, who met and married the man who was her husband for 25 years, until his death in 1991, was simply immersed in her own life. Days multiplied into years without family contact.
But in December 1994, Jeannie, then 54, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia. Her physician referred her to City of Hope where she learned her best chance for long-term survival was an allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) — but only if a sibling could donate the marrow.
Jeannie returned home from work one evening with the intention of calling some of the family telephone numbers she had retained. But she didn’t have a chance. Two gentlemen appeared at her door that evening: her older brothers Bud and John. By the end of the evening, Jeannie was in contact with her siblings, all of whom later made arrangements to be tested as potential marrow donors.
Fortunately, Jeannie’s older sister Ethel and brother Bob proved to be matches to Jeannie. As Bob went through tests to evaluate his health, it was discovered that one of the arteries in his heart was completely blocked. Bob underwent lifesaving angioplasty and Jeannie’s sister Ethel became her BMT donor. Jeannie’s recovery was sweetened by the unconditional love showered upon her by her family.
Over the past years, Jeannie and her siblings have enjoyed regular visits and family reunions. She continues to work at the insurance agency where she has been employed for 20 years and, in 2005, she purchased her first home. She is healthy and grateful to be part of a large, loving family.