Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Return to the National Institute of Health

(A photo of me at NIH yesterday. The red under my thumb is a heat pack they have me to keep my hands warm.)

Yesterday, I donated lymphocytes (a form of white blood cells) at the National Institute for Health for a woman with leukemia I donated stem cells to 3 years ago. Sadly, her leukemia has returned. Doctors will use my lymphocytes to try to develop a cancer vaccine for her.

I continue to be blown away by the continued advance of medical technology. The engineer in me was fascinated that they could make a machine part of my circulation system, pump my blood through a centrifuge, extract my lymphocytes based on molecular weight, pump the rest back into me with no ill effect, and then use what they extracted to attempt to make a cancer vaccine. How cool is that? God continues to bless us greatly through the hands of medicine.

On my end, everything went incredibly smoothly. The nurses spoiled me, I got to watch Night at the Museum while I was hooked-up to the machine, and the whole process lasted only about 2-1/2 hours. They fed me afterward and I can report my appetite remains as healthy as ever. About the only hiccup was a little bit of trouble getting the IV’s in me at first. My mom and dad drove in to visit me towards the end and bring me back to their home for an overnight recovery and continued spoilage. They dropped me off at the Metro just a few hours ago. I couldn't ask for better parents or for better care – both at home and at NIH.

Please keep the woman who will be getting the vaccine from this process in your thoughts and prayers. She should receive it in about 2 weeks from now. My hope and prayer is that the doctors are able to make a vaccine that would cure her permanently of her leukemia.

My deep gratitude goes out to Glenna who took great care of me while I was on "the machine", to Sarah for coordinating this process again and for being my "taxi" from the hotel, to all the doctors and nurses involved with the treatment, research, and vaccine development, and to my parents for always being there for me. I continue to be amazed by this entire process, blessed to be a part of it, and saddened by knowing the recipient continues to struggle against her terrible disease.

If you’d like to learn how to help, the National Bone Marrow Donor Program has instructions on how to join the registry, contribute financially, and a list of other ways to help. You can also learn more about bone marrow transplantation here.

No comments: