In general, transplants are messy, painful operations involving anesthesia, surgeons, recovery; did I mention pain for days afterwards.
But this is what a stem cell transplant looks like
Now add in vital signs, premedications (the usual to prevent a reaction), two nurses carefully double checking each and every bit of identifying data (just like a blood transfusion only more so), and in less than an hour it is done. Never have to leave the room; no rolling down the hall dressed in horrible hospital best with all these people who don’t know you staring as you are wheeled past. No opportunity to say stupid stuff in the recovery room that may come back to haunt you. Just the opportunity to read or sleep while the pump does its thing.
Meanwhile, now a few hours post transplant, George is watching the Warrior-Toronto game after supper. I spent time playing computer games.
Then, I decided to read more on ethnicity, HLA typing and other fun scientific inquiries. There is a really neat data base here which gives you background on HLA typing and has a database in which you can look up HLA alleles that have been correlated with different ethnic groups. Besides the obvious data from Europe, there is also significant data from Africa, Asia, Pacific Islands, New World Native, and various combinations there of.
If you are interested – this link provides data on the relation between ethnicity, donor availability (unrelated donor match) and survival. This particular study is now ten years old, but the facts remain that being Caucasian improves your chances of a finding a match with an unrelated donor. The closer your match, the fewer complications and the better your long term chances. Most of us do not have enough siblings to have one a perfect match. In fact, some of us, by retirement age, don’t have any sibs, or none that are healthy enough to donate. The US National Registry is here. The same exist in UK, OZ, all Western European countries. Primarily, they are looking for the under 30 crew (free to register) and males are preferred over females (and females who have not been pregnant over those that have). In case you are scratching your head – pregnancy exposes a woman to HLA antigens not her own. Unlike other organs, stem cells/bone marrow is self renewing.
George was still doing fine when I headed off for the night. We were told to “not expect problems” but to report anything that was a change. Anything at all. Discomfort, pain, itching, anything.