Anyone who remembers me may recall I'm from Ohio, the Cleveland area. Since the end of March my wife and I have been temporary residents of Augusta GA. Some of you may recall she has a type of blood cancer. (MDS, bone marrow failure) The potential cure is an allogenetic stem cell transplant. However, to do so the patient must receive at least one blood transfusion as the chemo therapy destroys not just the bone marrow but also all blood cells. Reds, whites, and platelets. Of course, with no red cells oxygen cannot be sent to the organs including brain. With no platelets something as simple as a paper cut or nose bleed can be uncontrollable and fatal not to mention any spontaneous bleeding. And of course no white cells means no immune system so the smallest of bug or infection could spiral out of control.
Because of religious / conscience reasons my wife would not accept a blood transfusion. We searched the entire country looking for a Dr and hospital willing to treat her. We were denied by every major hospital you can name and several you can't. We finally stumbled on two hemo oncologist at Augusta University that were willing to attempt it. Dr Kota and Dr Jillella. At this point she was only given a couple month's to live. We arrived here the end of March and she began pretreatment including chemotherapy that would destroy her marrow and ultimately, blood cells. They had a plan, that on paper, would keep her alive until the new stem cells began stimulating her marrow to create new, working blood cells.
She was as close to death as one could imagine. They walked a very tight rope but with all they knowledge, her blood counts began rising. They rose shockingly fast. Within a little over a week after the transplant on April 6, her blood counts were normal. A bone marrow biopsy was done 100 days after the transplant and she was found to be cancer free!!
We are still temporarily residing in Augusta for follow up care. Currently, we are in the hospital. She was admitted July 5. She is battling graft vs host disease. Something very common that all stem cell transplant patients suffer from. Hers just happens to be stubborn. It is finally starting to get under control. We will be in her for at least two more weeks and not go back to Ohio until some time in the fall, at which point Cleveland Clinic is going to take over her care working with the Dr's down here.
It's been a long hard, sad, scary, thrilling ride. We've not seen home, friends, family or even children since we left in March. But my wife and the Dr's did it!! They saved her life. Without them she would have died a couple months ago. This is the first time a bloodless allogentic stem cell transplant has been done in the United States. Only the third in the world and IIRC the fist to survive let alone be cancer free. The poor girl is hairless and weighs under 100# but she is alive and has made medical history!
As a side note, the brings me one step closer to getting home and finishing my electric brewery. I'm so happy to have my wife with me and returning to health I just had to share. If any of you are in the Augusta area, I sure would love a visit!
Raise one tonight my wife and raise a couple to her AMAZING doctors.