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Woman’s Thanksgiving Tradition Is Thanking Those Who Saved Her Life

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Dr. Peter McSweeney gets a hug from Sheila Gannon (credit: CBS)

Dr. Peter McSweeney gets a hug from Sheila Gannon (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4) – A grateful mother thanked the people she credits for saving her life. She was the first person in Colorado to receive a double cord blood transplant.

CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh joined the leukemia survivor on a trip to the doctor.

Every year at this time Sheila Gannon’s family visits the Colorado Blood Cancer Institute. Sheila is nearly 6 years post transplant and she is incredibly grateful.

Sheila and her husband, Utah, and son, Sawyer, dropped off treats for the staff at the cancer institute. It’s where their Thanksgiving begins. The Gannon tradition dates back to 2006 when Sawyer was just a baby and Sheila was thankful to be alive.

“There were times when it was touch and go,” Sheila said.

In May 2005 she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Sawyer was delivered 2 weeks early so Sheila could start chemotherapy. There were complications when no bone marrow match could be found.

“She was very close to death when we took on this transplant,” Dr. Peter McSweeney said.

McSweeney offered Sheila an umbilical cord blood transplant. But it was a new approach by injecting two units from two different donors. It was a first for Colorado.

“The result is that she’s free of disease almost 6 years out from this treatment,” McSweeney said.

McSweeney credits the cord blood. Sheila will always be grateful to the people.

“At a time when I was very sick and no other clinic in the country would have taken me they took a big chance on me,” Sheila said.

So the Gannons take time to express their gratitude. They teach 6-year-old Sawyer the true meaning of Thanksgiving and count the caring people at the cancer center among their blessings.

McSweeney says Sheila is out of the woods.

The Gannons are planning to adopt a sibling for Sawyer and they will do what they can to encourage women to donate umbilical cord blood.

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