Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Transplant!!

I'm pretty tired, but just wanted to write that the transplant is underway and going well! It's actually happening as I type this. Unlike an organ transplant, a bone marrow transplant is simply a blood transfusion, except that the blood consists of pure stem cells, not mature blood components like white cells and platelets. The stem cells know that their place is inside the bone marrow, and they automatically migrate there after entering the bloodstream. No direct injections into the bone are needed.

Johanna, my parents, Cindy and Brian showed up around 11 pm, since we had received word that the cells might be here early. It turns out they didn't show up until 1:30 am, so my parents snoozed for a bit while the rest of us chatted and watched Roscoe Jenkins on the hospital movie channel. We munched on the cupcakes Johanna had made for the event. The nurse was great and kept us up to date and fired up for the big moment. She even chilled some ginger ale for faux-champagne toasting!

The next we heard, the courier was waiting for a taxi from the SCCA and the stem cells arrived a short time later. They came in a normal, everyday picnic cooler. After cross-checking the paperwork and double-checking records, the transfusion was officially started. Everyone sang Happy Birthday and I opened a few cards from my family. My parents had brought a couple of balloons, so my mom tied them to the ends of the bed. We toasted with the ginger ale, took some pictures, and then everyone headed home for some sleep. Poor Brian has to be to work at 8 am tomorrow, so it was neat that he stayed up.

Even though it doesn't carry the weight of a big procedure, it's still an exciting and momentous event that has been in the works for 6 months now, from being diagnosed back in June, going through several rounds of chemotherapy and blood transfusions, searching for donors, finding just one out of 10 million that matched, and the rest of the events leading up to and preparing for this day. I'm just really happy that everything is going as planned, and especially grateful that the donor was willing to step up and do this and help save my life. Not only did she have to endure several medical tests and blood draws, she has been taking injections for the last several days to push her stem cells into her peripheral blood, then spent several hours yesterday morning hooked up to a machine giving blood. I'm so grateful for her for doing all that, and am trying to figure out what I want to say when I get the chance to write her.

Here are some pictures from the night's event :)


Waiting for the cells to show up



Nurse Erika begins the transplant!



All the nurses sign a little card :)



The tiny stem cells appear as little particles in the tubing



Happy Birthday to me!


12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great news Steve! Hope all is going well. Go cells go!

George said...

And they're off!!

Yes an incredible journey so far. I know you will deal with some graft vs host stuff maybe... but let's just hope it's kept to a curly mop on top of your head.

Ok so now you need to tell us what will happen or expected in the days to come. Or did you say that earlier?

MW said...

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MW said...

HM that bunch of !!and @ was a big smiley face when I published it now it is just a mush!

Well it was to indicate the big smile that I had on my face reading this post.

Simon said...

To Steve's new stem cells:

Thank you so much for leaving your home, your family, taking that long flight (aren't those airline seats just the worst?) and enduring the indignity of being pushed around through needles, bottles and tubes. But I think you're really going to like your new family. Stever's an awesome guy, and he's always up to something fun and exciting. There will be scooter riding (which, lemme tell you, is *hella* fun), walks, coffee (you little guys do like coffee, right? Right!?!?) and all sorts of fun, crazy adventures. You'll get to learn some new languages. OK, they're not really languages, but we geeks like to think that they are. Think of all that time in front of the computer as down time. Relax. Find something fun to do, like, oh, make new white blood cells! Yeah! You guys love doing that!

You're really going to like the rest of Steve's family - they're wonderful people, who are so grateful that you made it here. And of course there's the amazing Johanna, who will love you just as much as Steve does.

Because Steve and Johanna are such fabulous folks, they of course have lots of friends, who are now your friends too. Feel free to add us on Facebook - we'd love to be friends with you. And if you ever want to hang out, or want to go check something out in your new home, or grab a meal, just let me know and I'll be ready to go. Especially if you convince Steve to come along on his scooter.

So go forth little stem cells, and multiply. Good luck getting settled in your new home, and please don't hesitate to call, text, email or even send smoke signals if you need anything.

Your new friend

- Simon

PS. Happy Birthday Stever!!!! :-)

Beth said...

Well howdy,
Great news! Happy Birthday! And gees I hope you like the color of your new hair! Probably better just to dye your hair a preferred color rather than go through this again.
SMILE :)
Jeff and Beth

Maggie said...

Simon and I think alike, although I've never met him. First thing I thought of was "go little healthy cells go .. go forth and multiply". I most definitely want to be added as a "Healthy Cell" friend on Facebook ;)

Can't wait to see you Steve and Johanna! What an exciting day...YAY!!! Love ya lots!!!!!

raytrodd said...

Awesome, congrats steve! I imagined the stem cells actually forming themselves into an airplane and flying themselves here to Seattle. Can't wait to hear what happens next.

lynda said...

happy cell day indeed!! woohoo steve! i feel tingly. :) <3!

Vanesa Polo said...

Happy Birthday!!!
Reading your post and the comments from everyone made me almost tearful.
Go cells!

rachael said...

Yipee for your new sells Steve! I hope they are doin' their job. Kickin butt and takin names I imagine. Take care man, sounds like you're doing great! Nic has been worried he has a cold, and since I seem to catch every bug, we've been worried about visiting you. Keep walking the halls! We'll see you soon!

CrisCo said...

Happy little cells you are very lucky! Steve is going to take very good care you! Rejoice and be strong!