April 19, 2013

BMT 101: Transplant Day

Well, I'm late to post this (two weeks late...oops) and my blog has been so neglected. We've been busy with sick kids and life and I've been in a blog funk. I'm also in my "hole up and ignore the world while I fight for my child's life" mood. I did this with Kate, I'm doing it again with Will. Please pray I can snap out of this. I know I need support and love. I really do. So I need to find a way to stop shutting it out and start reaching for that support.

We've reached the most important, yet most anti-climactic portion of the BMT process!

I know, I know. You hear "It's TRANSPLANT day" and you get all excited! Yes, the transplant is exciting. It is the moment when a patient receives their second chance at life! The emotion is something words cannot describe but the actual transplant process? If I'm being honest, it's pretty boring!

I think one of the biggest misconceptions with bone marrow transplants is the actual transplant. I cannot count how many times I've been asked "so when is Will's surgery?" In my head I'm thinking "which surgery? He has several more to come." but I've come to realize that people hear transplant and automatically think surgery, operating room, organ on ice.

A bone marrow transplant is not a surgical procedure for the patient. It is done in the patients room and is nearly identical to a blood or platelet transfusion.  The biggest differences is that bone marrow cells (I am not certain if peripheral cells are given the same way as Kate received actual marrow.) are not pushed through any type of pump. Apparently a pressurized transfusion pump can damage bone marrow cells so in order to avoid damaging any of the donor's cells, they are given "free fall" meaning gravity is the only thing helping the cells flow into the patients body. The bag of cells is hung on an IV pole and the pole height is increased or decreased as necessary to achieve a proper flow. I have no clue how "proper flow" is determined. All I know is that two nurses and a fellow stand and watch the cells flow and make changes as necessary. Literally stand there and watch the cells flow into the patients body. Drip by drip.

Patient size determines how long the transplant will take. Because my kids go through BMT as babies, they cannot received a high volume of donor cells which means the transplant process takes about an hour for them. But, I've heard transplants can take up to 4 hours in adult patients.

So there you go - the actual transplant. Pretty easy peasy, right?

But the emotion? The meaning behind the transplant? The HOPE a tiny bag of cells brings?

I cannot even being to explain that.
The red line in this picture is the line carrying Kate's donor cells. I took this picture the second those life saving cells
reached her body and began saving her life.

I will never, ever forget the moment Lance's healthy cells entered Kate's body. It was literally a life changing moment. The second his cells reached Kate's body, she actually had a chance to LIVE. To experience. To thrive. To love.

That moment.

The moment you know your child finally has a chance at living a long life.

It makes this hell worth it.

Knowing we will experience HIS moment in 6-8 weeks?

Knowing his chance is so close?

It keeps me fighting for Will.

So very soon sweet boy. You are so close to your moment. Just hang on a little bit longer. Momma will keep fighting. Your moment will come. Your life will truly begin. I promise sweet boy. I promise.


Ali said...

I think it is ok to do whatever you need to do right now, and that includes shutting people out for the time being while you focus on your family. Please don't feel guilty about not responding to offers of support or reaching out for support. Your true friends and family will all still be there when you are ready.
We are praying for Will and for all of you!

Sarah Hedlund said...

Such a powerful moment. Thank you for sharing that picture. Praying for you and sweet Will!

Erin said...

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

PS - Just in case you didn't mean to post it publicly, I wanted to let you know that you used her donors name.

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