Posts tagged stem cell transplant

stem cell transplant: fast facts

What are stem cells?    

Stem cells are the basic building blocks of life, the basic cell from which our bodies are made. They are formed at conception and specialized to become all the different tissues of the body: muscle, nerve, organs, bone, blood and so on.

When do we use our body’s stem cells?

We tap into our body’s stem cell reserve to repair and replace injured or diseased tissue. Unfortunately our reserve is finite and as it becomes depleted, the regenerative power of our body decreases and we succumb to diseases, disorder and the ravages of aging.

What is stem cell transplant?

A stem cell transplant is the infusion of healthy cells to replace diseased or damaged ones.

How important is stem cell transplant to leukemia patients?

Cancer, particularly leukemia, is an important disease for stem cell transplants; bone and peripheral blood stem cell transplants have been used for decades. A patient receives chemotherapy or radiation treatment to destroy the cancer cells but unfortunately, healthy cells are also damaged. A stem cell transplant can replace the lost and damaged cells with fresh, functioning ones, which can then provide the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets that are important to metabolism, clotting and immunity. The other benefit of this treatment is that the newly formed white blood cells can further improve immune function such that they destroy any remaining cancer cells in the marrow.

What are the risks?

Stem cell transplants still have several risks associated with the procedure. Some people will find they experience few issues while others may require consistent monitoring and repeated hospital stays. Some of the complications that can occur with a stem cell transplant are:

  • damage to organs or blood vessels
  • graft versus host disease
  • Death

Thus, although some people will experience few complications, others may find they suffer from short and long-term problems associated with a stem cell transplant. The success varies widely and it is impossible to predict who will experience side effects and to what degree they will occur.

In most cases, the benefits of stem cell transplants will likely outweigh the risk of complications and these techniques can truly be life-saving for conditions such as leukemia and aplastic anemia. It is hoped and anticipated that future research can yield successful therapies for a broader range of diseases.

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i found my perfect match

…….for bone marrow transplant! wink!

my younger siblings, godfrey and reese, were both tested positive for bone marrow matching and were considered “well matched”. this great news was relayed to me yesterday. based on the results of their tests, the doctors compared the characteristics of their stem cells to my stem cells and found out that the protein content are similar. thank God!

i know i still have a long way to go as i need to have “complete remission” from my “repeated” chemo therapy first before the allogeneic stem cell transplant. but nevertheless, the reality that i now have genetically perfect matches has raise the positive feeling that my body will definitely accept the donated stem cells.

i had my chemo yesterday, the last for daunarubicin. i still have four more days for ara-c and then i’ll have another bone marrow biopsy. i feel a little low today because i’m having  hypercalcemia or high calcium level, which they say is a typical complication from chemotherapy. the nurses are now giving me calcitonin every six to eight hours to lower the calcium level. 

i was talking to the oncologist a while ago re: stem cell transplant and he told me that it is not really recommended for all AML patients because of the high risk in complications and in some cases there are no clear benefits. in my case, he said it seems to be appropriate because i failed to achieve a remission following my initial induction therapy.

i had another session with my psychotherapist this afternoon and it was an hour of expressing my emotions using crayons and colored pencils. i was slumped on the floor doing some drawings of the sun, moon, stars, skies, rainbows, clouds and rain. i felt like a kid again 🙂

oh well, i’m kinda sleepy now so i’ll be taking a nap after posting this entry.

again, i want to say thank you to those who are still offering/whispering prayers for me, those who sent e-cards, encouraging sms, giving me financial and spiritual support—–words are not enough to express my appreciation, i’m overwhelmed.

thank you Lord for Your love and for being true to Your words….i’m pressing on with the journey and i’m trusting You more each day…….continue to do Your will in me.

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