Today was day 0, or TRANSPLANT DAY! It is definitely a day of celebration. As we were sitting there, my dad mentioned that he couldn't believe it was finally here. Transplant seemed so far away on Nov. 13th. Melanie has been through a lot to get her to this point! So, we had a little birthday celebration in room 812 this afternoon. I picked up the balloons and forgot that she couldn't have latex ones. I had only brought 1 mylar! On our way by the gift shop, Greg said, "We should get one that says IT'S A BOY." We thought it was fitting for the donor, and the boy blood Melanie was going to be receiving. Great thinking, Greg!
Melanie is always in heaven when Kaden is able to be there. My dad, Kaden, and Cami got there at about 2:00 p.m. They said they would have the cells at 3:00. We really don't listen to time schedules any more, so we weren't surprised as the time kept getting pushed back.
Melanie opened a present from Cami. It's not a birthday party without a present. Greg and Charise headed to the airport to pick up Kim, while the rest of us waited for those stem cells to be delivered. We were just going to be missing Mike, who was in Wyoming for a wedding. We thought of you, Mike and Steph!
We killed time by taking silly pictures. We also spent some time talking and remembering some things about grandma Perkes.
Still waiting! This was the first walk Melanie has taken for a few days. The opened up a new area on her floor, so she could walk more than the usual hall.
The stem cells arrived at about 4:45 p.m. from the University of Utah. All donor cells go to the U of U for processing and such. Then one of their technicians has to deliver them to LDS hospital.
Before the cells could be given, Melanie had to receive a bunch of other meds. She had Benedryl, a steroid, Tylenol, and another anti-rejection medication. They also had to monitor her heart rate and oxygen levels before and during the infusion.
There was a lot of paper work for the nurse (John) and the technician (Amber) to go over. They had to read all the numbers off the bag and double check everything. It was comforting to see how thorough they were.
There are 5.06 million stem cells in this bag. There are also some red blood cells, white blood cells, and such along for the ride. A total of 389 million cells. After the cells started making their way into Melanie's body, she started saying that she felt weird. We kind of think she was feeling a bit anxious. Yesterdays ordeal was so scary for her, I think she was afraid of a repeat. We tried to get her to breathe slowly and relax. Her heart rate went up bit. She said she could feel the liquid flowing through her, and it felt weird. She started to feel sick to her stomach and finally lost it. It was hard to sit there and watch her feeling so sick. John gave her some more Benedryl and once the cells were all through, she started feeling better.
A little transplant 101: The radiation and chemo Melanie received this last week was to wipe out her immune system and stop her production of white blood cells. Now, when the donor cells are given, her body doesn't have the juice to fight and kill the cells that are foreign to her body. The hope is that the donor cells will start to regenerate and make a new immune system for her, and that they will notice any residual leukemia cells as foreign and kill them. The down side is that his cells could notice that other organs (skin, liver, kidneys, etc.) are foreign and start attacking those. This is called graft-vs-host. Dr. Hoda said that a small amount of graft-vs-host is actually good, but a large amount brings a lot of complications. So, we hope the new cells in Melanie's body are doing good things, and her blood counts should start going up over the next week, as her new cells start setting up camp.
Melanie was glad that John was her nurse for this procedure. He has been a nurse for 15 years, and knows his stuff! He is very aware of Melanie's needs and takes such good care of her.
We had red velvet cup cakes that tasted just like mom's cake! So yummy! We sang Happy Birthday to her, but couldn't light the candle to blow out.
Melanie chose the flavor, but wasn't able to eat one tonight. We put it in the fridge and she can enjoy it when her appetite comes back.
Kim is here for a couple of weeks again. It is always great to have her here. She is such a help, especially for my mom! Greg, Charise, and Kim didn't make it back in time to see the cells, but they still got in on the party!