Helping Donors Give Hope and Life

March 09

I am quite privileged to care for donors and to witness first-hand their joy of giving life.

Dr. Corina Gonzalez is a leader in the fight against blood cancer, and the head of a team at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital that has performed more than 568** bone marrow and stem cell donation procedures with DKMS donors.

Whether she’s treating cancer patients or working with donors, Dr. Gonzalez takes a very personal, caring approach to her practice.

“A diagnosis of cancer turns a patient’s life upside-down,” explained Dr. Gonzalez. “Every plan is put on hold and life is reduced to an intense battle where the battlefield is the patient’s own body. The difference with blood cancer is that once the shock of the diagnosis has passed, we regroup and focus on the battle. The main reason is because there is hope for a cure with a stem cell transplant.”

Since August 2007, when Dr. Gonzalez became the director of the Blood and Marrow Collection Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, the center has devised innovative solutions that have enhanced its stem cell services and enabled more life-saving donations to take place. Today, MedStar Georgetown is the most active stem cell collection center in the country.

In her work with marrow donors, Dr. Gonzalez places a special focus on their safety and well being, taking time to meet with each donor in person before their procedure, to make sure that all questions are answered in advance.

“I am quite privileged to care for donors and to witness first-hand their joy of giving life,” she said. “Donors often say this is the best thing they have done in their lives; they hope and feel it will make a difference in the life of another.”

For Melissa, who completed her bone marrow donation in 2014, speaking with Dr. Gonzalez was an important moment. “As soon as I met the doctor, I felt completely at ease and totally trusted her,” explained Melissa. “It was one of the little things that made me feel like this is what I’m meant to be doing.”

Although great progress has been made in the fight against blood cancer, Dr. Gonzalez is determined to do more. “I want to bring awareness to the fact that not all patients can find a matching donor, so we work harder and better to give every patient with blood cancer the possibility of hope.”

** As of March 2015.