Football star from South Fort Myers High overcomes blood disorder

Reporter: Amanda Hall Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:

A football star from South Fort Myers High School is sharing his story of recovery after he was sidelined the summer of his junior year due to a blood disorder.

“I started to feel really, really bad. I was fainting often and I wouldn’t tell anybody, and then one time I fainted and fell. in the garage. My mom came out asked me what was wrong,” said Antwan Dixon.

Dixon was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, which occurs when the bone marrow can’t make enough new blood cells for the body to work. It’s a rare, severe disease.

“If you can’t get either a bone marrow transplant to get a new marrow or to get some sort of therapy that tricks your bone marrow into recovering at least a little bit, the natural history is you don’t survive,” said Dr. Craig MacArthur, the medical director of hematology-oncology at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Dixon received a combination of meds, transfusions and immunotherapy. He was well enough to play his senior year and had an outstanding freshman season at Kent State, but his disease became uncontrollable again shortly after, threatening Dixon’s life.

Dixon needed a bone marrow transplant, and his dad and former coach were a perfect match.

Dixon missed two seasons, but he found his way back, helping Kent State win the first bowl game in the school’s history. He followed in his dad’s footsteps to coach high school football at the Helm for Lehigh Acres.

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