We are so blessed to have made it to this day. Here's how it went down:
Gary's dad arrived at Hopkins around 5:30am this morning to get ready for surgery. They started the marrow extraction around 8:00 and he was finished around 9:45. The procedure involves removing bone marrow from the back of his hips via a needle that is poked through the bone. A smaller needle is inserted inside of this needle about 120 times and marrow and blood are removed. They got about a gallon from Gary Sr. The blood/marrow was then taken down to a phoresis lab and bone fragments were removed along with many of the white cells, hopefully leaving mostly stem cells which will take over Gary Jr's immune system and kill the leukemia. Gary Sr was sent home on pain killers and will be in a world of hurt for the next 48hrs.
Gary and I got to the hospital around 9am this morning -- Gary has been battling nausea and we got off to a slow start this morning. They started Gary on fluids to hydrate him before the transplant -- this was to help offset Gary's reaction to his father's blood, which is of a different blood type. The marrow arrived to us from the lab around 11:45 (in an Igloo cooler, of course. Whenever you see someone carrying an Igloo cooler in a hospital, you know there must be something interesting in it.) The nurses did all the double checking that it was from the right donor and going to the right recipient (I watch over their shoulders, and I confirm that they got it correct -- no swapped at birth stories here...) They hung the bag of blood/marrow from Gary's IV pole and hooked it up to his Hickman catheter (central line) and let it drip away. Gary's friend David was with us and I think we kept waiting for Gary to leap out of bed or something. But it kept dripping, and Gary just laid there looking groggy from the Benadryl they gave him to counteract any reaction to the blood. Hmmmm. No immediate satisfaction. But we know patience and persistence will win in the long run.
After the TRANSPLANT (or Bag-of-Red-Pink-Stuff) they gave Gary more fluids and we went home at 4pm. I took pictures and as soon as I can get Gary to DO something around this place, he will download them from the camera and we will post pictures so everyone can see the spectatular event. He can have one more day of this lying around crap, then THAT'S IT.
We go back to Hopkins tomorrow for antibiotics that Gary needs because of the infection he had last week, they draw tubes of blood and we wait for the results. Then we come back home. Repeat this procedure for the next 60 days. On Monday and Tuesday Gary gets more Cytoxan (chemo drug) which is the key to the experimental protocol he is on. Apparently this follow-up hit of chemo is what is making this kind of tranplant successful so far.
What we hope will happen is that Gary Sr's stem cells will find their way to Gary Jr's bones and engraft and start producing healthy, cancer killing marrow. Gary Sr's immune system will take over and eventually Gary Jr will even convert to his father's blood type. And then he will start spackling...
More educational information later. Thanks to all who are out there thinking about us -- it is a good release to be able to type in this journal and know that people are reading it and care about what is happening to our family.
Love to all--
Marcy and Gary,
I was thinking about you guys all day Friday. Glad to hear all is good. Take care and remember you are in my thoughts and prayers daily.
Dominic wants to know how the "firework" guy is doing? (I guess he should see you more than on the 4th :-) Our thoughts and prayers are with you...
We were thinking about you all day and I was telling Bob that soon you all would be hitting the local Chili's. I think you've got it backwards Girl! You are a blessing to us and your journal including us and allowing us to feel like we're "doing something" by reading along is a gift! Peace to You Ali
Gary, we haven't been in touch since the LHS reunion (the best laid plans of mice and men you know) but I hope everything is going well and that each day gets easier and easier for you. Peace to you and the family.