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Friday, March 16, 2012

Successful Harvest!

I called DFCI this morning to find out the results of yesterday's stem cell harvest, and  Kathy (covering for Muriel) told me that they collected 1.2 million yesterday, bringing my total to 9.87 million!  She said that this should be enough to use half of them for my pending transplant, saving the rest for a possible future transplant.  Good news!  I decided to verify this by emailing Dr. Richardson.  He agreed that there were enough and he would be happy to store half if I prefer.  I responded that I do prefer that, and he agreed.

After telling him that, I thought I really should look into this further.  I did a little research and found an article addressing how many stem cells are needed for transplant:  Here is the relevant quote:

"In order to proceed with a Stem Cell transplant enough stem cells must be collected. The collection is measured in millions of stem cells per kilogram of the patients weight. It is always quoted that way and never as the total number of stem cells collected. This is because patient size makes a huge difference in the total number needed. In general the requirements are:
  • Minimum required to perform a transplant: 2 million per kilogram
  • Optimum preferred: 5 million per kilogram
  • Bonus collection: 10 million per kilogram
Research shows while 2 million is sufficient, the patient will recover faster, and with a lower probability of grade 3 or 4 neutropenia if 5 million are collected. Research also shows that collecting 10 million does not really offer any recovery benefit over 5 million, but from the patients point of view, it does give an enormous psychological boost.  There has been some recent evidence however that shows collecting more than 5 million may reduce the risk of later infections."

Based on this, I am very comfortable with using half of the stem cells now, keeping the rest in reserve just in case.  There doesn't seem to be any convincing evidence that using them all now would provide enough benefit to outweigh the advantage of having a backup for the future.

Reflecting on the events of the last few days, I can't help but be thankful again for my continued good fortune.  The stem cell collection was successful (even though it took three days), and I have been assigned to the most advantageous arm of the transplant clinical trial.  On the eve of my going into the hospital for the transplant, I couldn't have asked for things to have turned out better.

I am so grateful for the caring and support I have received from so many of you.  On Monday, our good friend, Janice, who is a Reiki master, treated me to a wonderful Reiki session.  It was my first time, and it felt great!  Thank you, Janice.  I can't help but think that one reason things have turned out so well for me so far and that I have maintained such good spirits and upbeat attitude is all of the positive energy I have been receiving from so many caring people, whether it has been in the form of prayer,  Reiki, or heart-felt good wishes.  It all seems to add up to good vibrations.

I will try to keep up with this blog while going through this process, although I might not feel like it much of the time.



  1. This is all fantastic news! We always knew you were one in a million (let's make that 10 million). Sending all our love and best wishes -
    chris & don xox

  2. Thank you, Chris and Don. I appreciate the warm thoughts.

  3. You said that the goal was to collect 10 million stem cells, but the quote says 10 million per kilogram of body weight. Since you weight a bit more than one kilogram, does that mean that they really collected more like 700 million stem cells from you?

  4. Yes, that is correct. I didn't realize that myself until I started looking into this over the past couple of days.