- Associated Press - Sunday, March 12, 2017

GREENWOOD, S.C. (AP) - When Steve Dorn, 64, first learned his sister, Milbre Kate Dorn, had been diagnosed with leukemia in August, he had just gone through one of the most difficult years he’d ever experienced.

On Dec. 15, 2015, Steve’s 33-year-old son, Thomas, died in his home just around the corner from DSP Architects in Greenwood where Steve works.

Despite having just experienced a life-changing tragedy, Steve said he was calm when he learned of his sister’s diagnosis and confident she was going to recover.

“My first reaction was that everything was going to be fine,” he said. “She called me and I said, ‘Honey, it’s going to be fine. I believe that, I know that and I’m not going to think anything different than that and neither are you. We’re gonna fight it, we’re gonna lick it and everything’s going to be good.’”

Milbre said her brother’s positive attitude was a comfort for her through her treatment.

“He just made it so I didn’t have to worry about him,” she said. “He was the one person I didn’t have to worry about. When you’re diagnosed with something like this, the first thing you do is worry about all the people around you who your sickness is affecting. I was worried to death about my husband, I was worried about my kids, I was worried about my family and Steve’s matter-of-fact attitude meant I didn’t have to worry about him.”

After three months of chemotherapy at the Medical University of South Carolina, the leukemia went into remission, and Milbre was told she would need to go to Duke University Hospital for a bone marrow transplant to prevent it from coming back.

When Steve learned that his little sister needed a transplant, he jumped at the chance to help.

“When they’re looking for a donor, the first thing they ask is, ‘Do you have any siblings,’ because your parent’s DNA is passed down to siblings and there’s a higher likelihood of there being a match,” she said. “One of the things he told me, he said, ‘Listen, I would drive to the Gates of Hell and spit in the Devil’s eye if I needed to to be able to do this for you.’”

Steve was a match and was selected to be her donor.

“I was tested just locally, they just had to draw blood, and my younger brother and he was a 50-percent match and I was a 70-percent match and they made the decision that I’d be the donor,” he said. “They said I was the only patient in the history of the bone marrow transplant clinic to be a 70-percent match as a sibling. Usually a sibling is a 50-percent match or a 100 percent.”

Through Milbre’s battle with cancer, Steve kept a sense of humor, which she said helped her to stay positive during treatment.

“When Steve learned that he was going to be my donor he said, ‘Just get ready honey because after this is over you’re going to crave Irish whiskey,’” she said. “He could always make it light even though it was a very serious thing. It was a very serious thing for him to go through and obviously it was very serious for me.”

The transplant was a success and today Milbre is cancer free. She said she’s grateful to her brother for coming through when she needed it most.

“He’s giving me a chance to live,” Milbre said. “It worked and I’m doing great. I’m still recuperating some, I’m still not back at work, I’m at home and getting stronger everyday. It’s all good stuff.”

After losing his son, Steve said helping to save his sister has helped him heal.

“I couldn’t help him,” he said. “That was a horrible, horrible thing that no one should have to go through. But doing this for my sister has helped me emotionally deal with that. I couldn’t do it for him, but at least I could be there for her.”

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Information from: The Index-Journal, https://www.indexjournal.com

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