Cody Desautel

Cody Desautel was just trying to lend a hand, or a DNA swab, to a neighbor, friend and fellow tribal member in 2012, as their daughter, suffering from aplastic anemia, desperately needed a bone marrow transplant.

The 38-year-old Coulee Dam resident was faced with another form of cancer attacking his own daughter, Miah, now 8, who was battling leukemia, when he answered the call for a Be The Match bone marrow donor drive at the Nespelem Community Center for then 6-year-old Jezelle Marconi.

“(Jezelle’s disease) was a (crappy) situation, right on the heels of Miah’s,” he recalled, noting he knew her parents, Ookie Marconi and Randi Pakootas, from growing up and working on the Colville Reservation. “I just wanted to help out if at all possible.”

Marconi passed away within weeks of the drive, but just a few months ago, Desautel received an email stating he was a match for someone else. On Friday, Aug. 14—after five days straight of shots increase stem cell production—he spent more than four hours on an IV as doctors pumped his blood from one arm through a filter and to the other in an effort to save a 51-year-old Canadian man.

For the Marconis, who have been the most active family fundraising group in the Be The Match organization for two years running, hearing the news brought great joy, Randi said.

“When informed of the news, our hearts were happy,” she said, “overwhelmed with excitement and joy. God is good.”

For Desautel, he feels privileged to donate, after his daughter’s victory over leukemia.

“Apparently, the individual right now is going through a very rigorous course of chemo,” Desautel said. “The intent of the chemo was to kill all of his stem cells, which are producing cancer in his blood stream. After they kill all of his, they’ll give him mine. 

“And hopefully mine produce healthy cells instead of cancer cells.”

Desautel, who works as the Colville Tribes' Land & Property director, got motivation from his own daughter’s situation, he said.

“I’m sure there was people who contributed things to help her through the process,” he said, noting he had achiness and headache as effects following the shots. “Whatever I have to go through, obviously a little bit of pain for me isn’t that big of inconvenience. 

“And if it can potentially save another guy’s life, especially in light of what Miah went through, just happy to have the opportunity to hopefully help somebody else.” 

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