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Refuse workers J.B. Burkhardt Memorial fund donates $1,000 to recovering officer
City refuse worker Ron Tilton hands Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion a check for $1,000 to help leukemia stricken police officer Steve Dowswell - photo by GLENN KAHL

Veteran Manteca Police officer Stephen Dowswell has been given $1,000 by the city refuse workers’ Jeff J.B. Burkhardt Memorial Fund to help with his incidental needs as he recovers from a bone marrow transplant some 12 weeks ago in San Francisco.

Dowswell and city mechanic Randy Karim were both stricken with leukemia during the past year and have been battling for their lives since receiving their diagnoses. They are both restricted to living some 100 days – more or less – in apartments within about 15 minutes of their respective hospitals. Karim was also given $1,000 from the memorial fund of the late beloved refuse truck driver.

Vicki Wolfe of Blood Source in Sacramento talked with Dowswell and his wife Linda on the telephone Friday at the University of California Hospital in San Francisco where he was taken last week for observation after his body was said to be reacting to the new transplanted bone marrow cells.

She quoted Stephen as saying he’s hanging in there, adding that things have been a “little rough,” but he’s feeling that “they’ll get better.”

“I want to thank everyone for thinking of me and my family,” Dowswell said. His wife Linda is a registered nurse and has been staying with him 24 hours a day.

Wolfe explained that his body is still getting used to his new immune system. She explained that the new cells are more easily accepted by some patients than by others.

“It’s a very individual process for each patient and can truly be a roller coaster ride for awhile,” she said.

Wolfe stressed that patients like Stephen and Randy often continue to need blood products after their transplants such as red cells, platelets and plasma. With that in mind she is urging the public to continue to donate blood products as they are able.

She said that the BloodSource donation site is located at 6385 Pacific Avenue in Stockton. Other centers can be located on line at or by calling (866) 822-5663.

Wolfe noted that a mild rejection that requires hospitalization, known as graft-versus-host disease, can be a good thing as it will cause an immune response against any foreign including any cancer cells in the body that have not been destroyed by chemotherapy, radiation or the patient’s own immune system.

She noted that the value of supportive cards from friends and family members can never be over estimated. “A mail drop can be the best part of a day when you are recovering from medical treatment,” Wolfe added.

Friends who would like to drop Stephen Dowswell a card may do so at 2614 Berkesey Lane, Valley Springs, CA, 95252