By Jack Sinclair
It’s now official – I’m not a bone marrow match for my mom, but Crystal is. She’s decided to donate her marrow to our mom but it wasn’t an easy decision. There are a lot of risks associated with bone marrow transplants. There‘s the risk that the bone marrow won’t take and it won’t make mom better at all. There are also the emotional implications of the operation – what both mom and Crystal will go through. The operation should be simple enough for Crystal; they will bore a large needle into her spine and remove bone marrow. The marrow will then be injected into my mom and if all goes well, mom will start recovering.
I make it sound like the procedure is much simpler than it is. In reality, what Crystal has decided to do is not a simple procedure at all. Granted, Crystal being young and healthy means that she likely will be in and out of the hospital in only one day. She will basically be having a very thick needle bore into the area near her spine where a lot of bone marrow is located. Once the marrow is safely removed, it will then be transferred into my mom.
For Crystal, the healing process should be fairly straightforward. She will be sore and she will be very tired for a while. I’ve read that the donor feels really sore after the procedure, kind of like after a big workout when your muscles are really stiff and sore and you just don’t feel all that energetic. If the transplant is a success, Crystal will probably continue to donate blood to mom during the recovery.
For my mom, the healing process is much more intense. There are a lot of risks including rejection of the new stem cells (marrow), destruction of the other cells by the new stem cells, or severe infection. If that happens, there is not a very strong likelihood of mom’s recovery. However, if Crystal’s bone marrow is accepted into my mom’s system, in time my mom’s blood cells will start working with Crystal’s and together she will begin to re-build healthy blood cells on her own. This is what we are all hoping for.
The recovery for my mom will not be easy – no matter the bone marrow takes or not. My mom will be very weak and need to be in a very clean and sterile environment for a long time in order to avoid infection. Her blood cells will be very, very weak and if she were to catch an infection it would most likely be life threatening. She’ll probably have to stay in the hospital for anywhere from four to eight weeks. She’s also going to need a lot of help – now and when she gets out of the hospital. I hope she knows just how much I’m willing to do for her while she’s recovering. I’ll even wear those hospital gowns, masks, gloves, whatever it takes to keep my mom safe and help her get well.
My family has really proven their strength lately and I’m so proud to be a part of them.