Day 172 One of the greatest gifts given to me

27 06 2013

Today is a great day in my life. My friend had her 7th birthday today. My almost 32-year-old  friend had her 7th birthday from a stem cell donation. 7 years ago I was allowed and given the greatest gift of being able to save Penny’s life through stem cell transfer. In 1996 I was sitting in the Dr office and I filled out an application to join the National Bone Marrow Registry thinking nothing about it. Then in 2006 I got the call.

National Bone Marrow Registry

My friend Penny has PNH- Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is a rare, acquired, life-threatening disease of the blood. The disease is characterized by destruction of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia), blood clots (thrombosis), impaired bone marrow function, and a 3 to 5% risk of developing leukemia. PNH affects only 1-2 persons per million of the population and is a disease of young adults (median age of diagnosis 35-40 years of age) with occasional cases diagnosed in childhood or adolescence. PNH is closely related to aplastic anemia. In fact, up to 30% of newly diagnosed cases of PNH evolve from aplastic anemia. Similarly, the risk developing PNH after treatment for aplastic anemia with immunosuppressive therapy (anti-thymocyte globulin and cyclosporine) is approximately 20 to 30%. The median survival after diagnosis is 10 years; however, some patients can survive for decades with only minor symptoms.

Penny carried the disease for 10 years and then there was a match. To think that someone in the world matches that close to you.  I got the call and went through a series of test and then was given the opportunity to say no. Yes there is an option to say no. Even when you start the 7 day process you can say no on the last day. What I went through was nothing compared to Penny. They essentially destroyed her body and then waited for my stem cells. We would have done bone marrow but she needed it now and this was the fastest way. ON the last day you feel like you pneumonia but as soon as they draw out the stem cells you really at that moment go back to feeling normal. There was a man there waiting to get my stem cells to California. When you go through this you have no idea of who the person is except if they are female or male and age. After one year if both parties agree you can meet. Its kind of heartbreaking because you have no idea if the stem cells took.

Lucky for me my stem cells took and around 18 months later I got to meet Penny. She is amazing and took on many of my qualities like, lactose intolerance. Today Penny and I are close and in the fall she starts her Masters Degree in Colorado. Im just so thankful that I got a chance for the gift of saving a life.


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