Utah dad gets second chance at life thanks to bone marrow transplant

Apr 18, 2024, 3:50 PM | Updated: 5:55 pm

HIGHLAND – Marc Dunbabin enjoys kicking the soccer ball around with his wife and three young kids.

“We just love spending time together,” he said.

But a few years ago, Dunbabin wasn’t sure if he’d still be alive to do so.

In 2021, the Utah dad went in for a routine eye exam, where doctors discovered blood in his retina. Dunbabin was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a rare type of cancer of the bone marrow.

“It was really hard to take in. I was really, really nervous,” he said. “You just hear the word ‘cancer,’ and my mind instantly went to the worst-case scenario.”

Life, as he knew it, was about to change.

A family photo of the Dunbabins.

A family photo of the Dunbabins. (Courtesy: The Dunbabin Family)

An oncologist started him on a TKI, a type of targeted therapy to attack the cancer cells. It had initial success, but then his body stopped responding.

“I’d have a migraine, come on, and it’d be excruciating pain,” he said. “I collapsed and passed out.”

The cancer had spread to his central nervous system. At one point, he lost the ability to speak.

“It got really scary,” he said.

Marc Dunbabin with his family at the hospital.

Marc Dunbabin with his wife and three young kids at the hospital. (Courtesy: The Dunbabin Family)

Dunbabin’s doctors at Intermountain LDS Hospital decided he needed a bone marrow transplant.

In March 2023, after undergoing chemotherapy in preparation, Dunbabin underwent a successful transplant – thanks to a selfless donor.

“We take the donor to the operating room and take marrow out of their pelvic bone,” said Dr. Julie Asch, the Blood and Marrow Transplantation director for Intermountain Health.

While bone marrow transplants can be risky, Asch said, they also save lives.

“There are many patients with acute leukemia, with bone marrow failure syndromes like aplastic anemia where their bone marrow is not working, who need bone marrow transplants or stem cell transplants,” she said. “If you can help save someone’s life, this is an awesome way to do it.”

Marc Dunbabin playing a board game while at the hospital.

Marc Dunbabin playing a board game while at the hospital. (Courtesy: The Dunbabin Family)

Dunbabin doesn’t know who his donor is – besides that, she’s a woman who lives in the U.S. – but he hopes that one day, their paths will cross.

“There was no chance for me surviving without a transplant,” he said. “I definitely want to meet her and just tell her in person, ‘Thank you so much for giving me my life back.'”

For more information on bone marrow donation and to sign up to become a donor, you can visit the BeTheMatch website.

KSL 5 TV Live

Your Life Your Health

Linda Campbell showing the Breast MRI where doctors found her breast cancer....

Emma Benson

Breast MRI is helping detect cancer in high-risk patients

Intermountain Health is working on new advances in breast cancer screening by transforming early detection.

4 days ago

The ABCs of checking for melanoma....

Emma Benson

Sun safety reminders for Skin Cancer Awareness Month

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and Utah has one of the highest rates of melanoma, about twice the national average.

10 days ago

Dr. Adam Balls out on a run with his daughter as part of his self-care routine....

Emma Benson

400 days and counting: ER doc’s exercise streak improves his mental health

A Utah doctor is encouraging everyone to join him in getting into an exercise routine to help with their mental health.

18 days ago

A family photo of the Grover family, who has three kids with autism....

Emma Benson

Utah family shares their experience with three boys who have autism

April is Autism Acceptance Month, and a Utah family wants share their personal experience of learning to adapt and grow with the disorder.

25 days ago

Walking is one way to exercise and manage stress....

Emma Benson

Get moving: How to manage stress with exercise 

If not managed well, stress can cause serious health problems. So, how can you exercise to manage stress?

1 month ago

Rebecca Page has worked hard to get her children on a regular sleep routine....

Ken Fall and Emma Benson

How to keep your kids on a regular sleep routine to reduce stress

Experts emphasize that sleep is therapy, both physically and emotionally, which is why it's important to keep you and your kids on a regular sleep routine.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Utah dad gets second chance at life thanks to bone marrow transplant