Transplant Journey

Day Zero: The Transplant

Today is Day 3, Friday, December 16. Now we start to count up.  It is awhile since I last wrote and there is much to share and I will go back to Day Zero but before that, here’s a quick update. I am doing well so far, though my blood counts are dropping and I am now very susceptible to infection. They say to expect a tough few days ahead until the stem cells start to take hold and build up my immunity.

Transplant Day – Day Zero, Tuesday, December 13.  Most people say that this is an anticlimax. It was far from that for me, as it was a very emotional day. The stem cell donation has made it possible for me to live a longer life and look forward to walking Lesley-Ann down the aisle on August 25. I was in tears most of the morning 🙂

When the Doctor suggested that the best course of treatment for my condition was a bone marrow transplant, all my brothers volunteered without reservation to become a donor. The focus is always on the patient, and often we fail to ask what it might be like for the Donor. I’ve asked Mahesh to give us his thoughts of the whole process. They tested two of my brothers first for a match, Sheran & Mahesh and they were both matches! Mahesh was a closer match, and we share the same blood group as well and therefore Mahesh was selected.

The donation process is a relatively lengthy process. Mahesh was in Dublin 5 days before the transplant and had to come into hospital every day for two injections to increase his stem cells in the blood stream. On the day (Day Zero), Mahesh was in the hospital by 8 a.m. and hooked into a machine. They take the blood out of one hand, into a machine that collects the stem cells and it then returns the blood back into the other arm. He spent over 4 hours, sitting still, with his hands outstretched which I would have thought was a very exhausting session. After that they take the stem cells into the laboratory and prepare them for transplant. Very often, you end up with two Day Zero’s as the donor may not have enough stem cells. However, in Mahesh’s case, he was able to donate more than what was necessary, so that they were able to freeze the extra stem cells for later use if necessary.

In the meantime, back in my room, it was the wait. The previous night (Day -10) wasn’t a very good night as my blood pressure started to go up and there was a minor panic as they tried to bring it under control. In the morning all was back to normal. Pat came in at 8 a.m. with Mahesh and sat with me in the room. I started playing some religious music to get into the mood. It started with some old Jim Reeves Gospel music, with hymns like, Take my Hand Precious Lord and before long I was in tears. Pat switched off Jim and turned on the Power of the Cross to calm things a bit.

Mahesh came back to join me in the room around 1 p.m. having donated the stem cells. Pat had left by this time. I changed the music to Leonard Cohen and we relaxed to some soothing music, before Pat joined us again around 3 p.m. Finally, the moment arrived at around 6 p.m. when they brought the bag of blood and it was  transplanted via a transfusion by two nurses. Everything went very smoothly, pressure remained stable and this phase was a success. Yes, Moses Mahesh had parted the sea and I crossed the Red Sea. Ahead, the Promised Land. The journey is still long and hard but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for the NEW LIFE Mahesh, and thank you to all my friends and family for all the love, prayers and support. I am surrounded by a Wall of Prayers and so much Love that this is a Grace in itself. This much I know. I hope to write about this time of Grace later on.

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