Since then I have befriended and come to care about other patients battling cancer and anemia. Below are updates on many of the patients I have blogged about over the past two years.
Regarding many of the patients below: Graft vs. Host Disease (GVHD) is caused when the donor stem cells don't realize they are now in a new body so they attack the transplant recipient's cells because they they think the recipient's cells are invading their donor's body. It is an expected complication of the transplant process and can be a short or long term problem post transplant.
Scott who lives in Hawaii, over the phone this past summer, she also recently traveled to NYC to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Most recently she had her first hair cut since losing all of her hair during chemotherapy. Even while we all felt a huge sense of relief that Tami has progressed so well post transplant, there was plenty of heartache in 2010. First Tami's dad passed away early in the summer and a few months later one of her Uncle's passed away. It was a tough year losing two family members and I hope and pray that this year will be one of continued good health and happiness for Tami.
Matthew continues to recover from the stem cell transplant he received in September of 2009. In early December 2010 he was still taking 18 different medications and battles with Chronic Graft vs. Host Disease. The GVHD is causing severe and constant dryness in his eyes for which he has to use eye drops, he has had persistent sores in his mouth and suffers from a severe case of scleroderma around his waist and on his arms. Despite the GVHD Matthew had some great highlights last year. Not only did he get to meet his stem cell donor, 26 year old medical student Diep Dao, who lives in Arizona, He finished the Be The Match 5k run/walk and went to a Lakers game and got to meet Dr. Jerry Buss, owner of the Lakers.
Be The Match" bone marrow donor registry. Team Haupt is creating a new non-profit organization named 30K Friends Foundation dedicated to providing support to leukemia and other blood cancer patients. Their mission is to recruit more potential bone marrow donors and to educate the public about the critical role of bone marrow stem cell transplants in saving the lives of patients with no other option for a cure. For Caucasians the chance of finding a matching donor is 1 in 30,000. (For ethnic minorities and people of mixed ethnicities the odds are 1 in 200,000 or more). Because 70% of patients in need don't find a match in time the need for more willing donors is critical.
died a week after receiving a long awaited marrow transplant. What angers me most is that had a transplant been available sooner her disease would not have progressed as far as it did and she would have had a better chance to beat the odds.
I am very happy to report that Janet has been in remission since early summer after receiving almost a year of intense chemotherapy to attack her Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Some problems with her liver and a frightening episode of congestive heart failure, caused by toxic side effects from two of the chemotherapy medications she had been on, caused a set back from which she continues to recover. Thanks to her network of family and friends who helped her to maintain her "Team Janet" efforts, 5,232 donors were added to the National Marrow Donor Program registry! Janet's goal is 15,000 so she's dedicated to continuing her recruitment efforts advocating for "Be The Match" as she continues in her recovery.
If Janet were to relapse in the future a stem cell transplant would be needed to treat her. Currently she has no match in the registry. Please consider joining so that if you are her match you can be there ready and waiting and she can receive treatment immediately which would improve her chances of a successful recovery instead of having to wait months or years as many patients do before they run out of time.
cord blood transplant for Sickle Cell Anemia, Zyreal battled against many setbacks to his health all year long. Currently he is back home and trying to be a kid, going to school, playing, all of the things 8 year old kids do. When a malady (particularly persistent vomiting has been a problem) comes up his dads help him deal with it. His doctors aren't sure if they will try a second marrow transplant if a better match can be located. Even if they do it won't be right away because Zyreal is still recovering from the last one. A lot is up in the air right now and Zyreal is holding his own. This is a photo of him playing Santa in his school play. Turns out he loves acting so much his dads may arrange some acting classes for him.
The legislation includes the following provisions:
- All California employers will be required to grant an employee a leave of absence up to five days to donate their marrow to another person
- Any period of time taken from work to donate marrow will not be considered as a break in continuous service for the purpose of his or her right to salary adjustments, sick leave, vacation, annual leave, or seniority.
- During any period an employee takes leave to donate, the employer shall maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for the full duration of leave
- An employer may require an employee to take up to five days of earned but unused sick or vacation leave for bone marrow donations, unless doing so would violate the provisions of any applicable collective bargaining agreement.
And Some Basic Donor Information about Marrow Donation:
- Registering is pain free. It takes a few cotton swabs rubbed on the inside of your cheeks and a short registration form to join the National Marrow Donor Program registry.
- Donating is now often almost pain free. Bone marrow was never taken from the spine. It was always harvested from the back of the hip/pelvic bone but now 75% of all donations are given through a blood harvesting method similar to donating platelets.
- Only 30% of patients find donors within their own families. The rest rely on anonymous strangers to give them the live saving marrow and stem cells they need to survive.
- Marrow matches are made through chromosomes called leukocytes. While typically they are found within ethnic groups, occasionally donors and patients will be from different ethnic backgrounds.
- Being from any ethnic minority group or mixture of more than one ethnic group means the odds of finding a matching marrow donor are far less likely than if you are of Caucasian descent. Though many of the patients I now know and care about have received transplants, some have yet to find a match and some may need a better match
- 70% of patients in need do not find a match in time. Many of their deaths could be prevented if more people would be willing to donate their marrow or stem cells.