Kylee Kauffman Stem Cell Donation

Last fall, Strategic Center Accounting Intern Kylee Kauffman received an email that sent her on an extraordinary journey, using her caring heart to save a life.
Kylee Kauffman - Caring Heart Champion

As a high school student, Kylee signed up to be on a bone marrow and stem cell donor list with the national organization DKMS. Years passed without contact from the organization until October of last year, when they reached out, letting her know she was a preliminary match for someone needing a donation.

With a mix of excitement and nerves, Kylee began the process to see if she’d be confirmed as a match for this individual. She later learned that he was a 63-year-old man diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a blood disorder that causes the blood cells in the bone marrow to form improperly.

During the preliminary match phase, which lasted about eight weeks, Kylee gave a blood sample to be sent out for intensive lab testing to see if she was a viable match. DKMS maintained regular contact with her during this time, ensuring she was still on board to go through with a donation if she was confirmed. They walked her through the procedures for bone marrow and stem cell donations. At this point in the process, DKMS had yet to disclose which type of donation would be necessary, but Kylee continuously reaffirmed her desire to advance.

“I was always on board; this is such a unique experience,” Kylee said. “Because it’s so rare to match with someone, I had to go through with it.”

In early December, Kylee received a call informing her that she was a confirmed match and would provide a stem cell donation. From there, things moved quickly. She went through further testing to reaffirm her status as a healthy donor, and she booked a flight to a cancer center on the East Coast for her procedure.

For five days leading up to the procedure, Kylee received injections twice daily to help stimulate her white blood cell count. An average white blood cell count is between 5,000 and 10,000. Kylee’s white blood cell count was 63,000 on the day of her procedure. The injections also helped pull her stem cells out of her bone marrow, where they’re made, to make it easier for them to be retrieved.

On the day of her procedure, Kylee arrived early in the morning at the cancer center. They fitted her with a central line in her leg connected to a centrifuge machine, which draws blood from the body and spins it to separate its elements before returning the remaining blood cells to the body. The procedure lasted eight hours.

“I experienced a short period of pain and discomfort during the procedure and recovery, but I had to think about what the recipient was going through, and if this was what would save his life, I’d do it a hundred times over,” she said.

Since the procedure, DKMS informed Kylee that the recipient had received her stem cells but, due to privacy concerns, could not share more information. Kylee was given the opportunity to write an anonymous letter to her recipient, in which she shared her story. She has yet to receive a response, as his road to recovery will be much longer if the transplant is successful, but she remains hopeful that she’ll hear from him in the future.

During this process, a family member shared that Kylee’s grandmother, who was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a type of blood cancer, had been scheduled for a stem cell transplant but passed away the week before. Knowing this reaffirmed Kylee’s desire to donate stem cells, bringing everything full circle.

Kylee hopes that she can inspire others to do the same by sharing how she’s used her caring heart.

“I’d encourage others to donate in any way they can,” she said. “Donating or volunteering their time with a local blood bank or an organization like DKMS could save someone’s life.”

On behalf of the Caring Heart Foundation and everyone at our organization, thank you, Kylee, for your courage and willingness to perform such an incredible act of Caring Heart.

Visit to learn more about stem cell donation or to join their national donor registry.