Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The transplant

Thank you Gerd!
It is such an amazing thing Gerd has done for Sigve, and therefore also for me. In agreeing to be the donor she has given Sigve the gift of continued life. Without this treatment his life expectancy was reduced to less than 2 years as the disease had started to accelerate. I'm not sure if she knew how much pain and discomfort it would involve for her, it was certainly more than I imagined from hearing about it. I knew before that Gerd is a very strong person, and this has proved it again. There are not enough words in the world to express completely how we feel, but
we will be forever grateful to you Gerd!
*****

After Gerd was done with the harvesting she came up to Sigve's room for dinner.

Producing extra stem cells turned out to be very hard work, and she is exhausted. The pain in her spine and knuckles over the last days has made it difficult to sleep, so that is exhausting too. The doctor decided to keep her on the ward for tonight, and at the hospital hotel for Thursday night to keep an eye on her recovery. Please help us pray for a speedy recovery for her!

Earlier this morning I had noticed an irritation in my left eye. I changed my contact lens, and it went away. But at this point I realized I was probably developing an eye infection. I told the nurse, who took me to a doctor, who decided it was best if I left, and told me to see another doctor in the morning if it hadn't cleared up by then. So there I was, unable to watch the transplant procedure. Fortunately Hilde Marie was there, so I gave her my camera, and left.

Usually when we hear about transplants we think of huge operations, both for the donor and the recipient. Not so in this case. You already know what it involved for Gerd. For Sigve it was just like a blood transfusion. Piece of cake.
First he was hooked up to medications to prevent various possible immediate reactions to the new stem cells, like increased blood pressure, palpitations, shortness of breath, and actually full prophylactic shock, which was very rare, but could happen.
One of Hicky's tubes was used for the actual transfusion, but with a special connection. That meant that Hicky would be completely open, so it had to be attached in sterile conditions, and everyone had to leave the room for a few minutes.

The transfusion was actually very low tech. Usually Hangman has these drip counters attached to him. The tube from the iv bags go through them and a drip speed is set. The counters keep track and administer the medication, or whatever, at the set speed. This technology can't be used for the stem cells, so a nurse had to set the speed manually, count the drops while timing them (by good old fashioned watch) and adjust to the right speed. Quite slowly for the first 15 mins, and then a little faster. The whole thing took 1h 15 mins.

When the procedure started Sigve had a bit of a fever, but 30 minutes into the transfusion the fever was gone. Time to rinse out the mouth to prevent soreness and dryness. He has a small amount of fungus on the tongue, and gets a rinse for that too.

More than half way done.

The bladder keeps doing it's business, transfusion or not, and requires attention.

Gerd overlooked the proceedings and is probably sms'ing someone on the progress:

The nurse responsible for the transplant, she was in the room the whole time:

Almost all gone, good boy, finished the lot!
After the transfusion was over, Sigve was offered supper, and all of a sudden his appetite was back, and he felt great.

There are a lot of side effects and complications that can occur, both from the transplant and all the medication he will be getting in the coming weeks, but we stay optimistic and expect everything to continue to go as well as it has started.

We were told that it's quite common for transplantees (I think I invented that word, can't find it in the dictionary, but you know who I mean) to consider the day of their transplant as their new birthday from the on. Sigve decided that from now on he will be celebrating both Aug. 11, and Oct 14, and will be expecting presents on both day!
Over the course of the next year Sigve's blood type will change from his old type O to Gerd's type B. Isn't it amazing that that's possible? We're wondering about what other qualities he'll get from her, maybe he'll start knitting?

It has been a very satisfying day :-)

Today I am grateful for:
*Gerd
*Modern medical technology (and some old fashioned)
*All the prayers, happy thoughts, positive energy, good wishes, warm hugs and blessings that all you wonderful friends out there are sending us. You carry us through this, and it works!






2 comments:

Sonda T. Allen said...

Just thinking about you all and smiling. Loved the pictures. I see wellness.

Brenda said...

<3 Love crosses all boundaries.

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