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Voices of Donation

Dawn Giese

Dawn Giese

The pain in Dawn Giese’s lower back began due to a spinal stress fracture. It was devastating for the then 42-year-old registered nurse when she tried to walk up and downstairs, roll over in bed, or drive a long distance. Worse, she was unable to sit for more than 20 minutes at a time. “In meetings, I had to get up and walk around,” she noted.

Dawn’s work hours were limited because she could not take pain medication while performing her emergency room and intensive care unit duties at Community Memorial Hospital in Oconto Falls, Wisc. So, she spoke with Community Memorial neurosurgeon, Dr. Bryan Pereira, about options for how she would be able to continue her nursing career. The best solution: a transplant using donated bone tissue.

After six more months of pain and limited mobility, Dawn underwent transplant surgery to replace her fractured vertebrae. The procedure changed her life.

“I tell people, especially other transplant patients, that I’m 95 percent pain-free, 95 percent of the time,” she said. “There’s really nothing I can’t do.”

In addition to being able to continue to practice her nursing profession, Dawn also is able to keep up with her hobbies of flower gardening and playing the French horn. She shares a blended family of five children with her husband, Randy.

Today, Dawn has completed her Master's degree and works as a nurse practitioner. The experience of her tissue transplant has helped her approach families at the hospital about donation. “It’s easier for me to ask families than anyone else I work with,” she explained. “I tell them that I wouldn’t be walking if it weren’t for someone’s generous gift.”