Monday, January 24, 2011

It's Time To Harvest The Stem Cells

On Sunday Jim took Reid down to MD Anderson for a blood draw at 7:00 AM.  It was determined that he needed more platelets and he was given a 3:30 PM appointment for the transfusion. 

They came home for a few hours between appointments and left the house at 2:30 PM.  On the drive down to the hospital Reid developed a nose bleed which continued during the platelet transfusion.  Finally, the nurse said they'd give it a half hour to stop and then they'd call the doctor.  Fortunately, it finally stopped and they were able to return home in the evening.  Nose bleeds are not unusual when the platelets are low since it's platelets that help the blood to clot.

Today Reid had to be down there early for a blood draw, but because of the rainy weather it took us an hour and fifteen minutes to get down there.  That meant we had to wait in the Fast Track Clinic until they got the results.  The good news is that the test they use to determine if it's time to start harvesting stem cells was at 29 which is very good.  It needs to be at 10, so he was quite a bit over.  Unfortunately, his hemoglobin was low probably because of yesterday's nose bleed, so he needed another blood transfusion.  All his other numbers were going up which is also good news.  It means his body is recovering from this latest round of chemo.

He had a 2:00 PM appointment for the transfusion, but they hadn't started yet by 3:00 PM, so I had to call Jim at work to come down and relieve me so I could drive home while it was still light.  Darn these old eyes.

Tomorrow he needs to be back down at 7:30 AM for a blood draw and then they will start harvesting the stem cells which involves hooking him up to a machine that sucks the blood out, removes the stem cells, and then returns the blood to him.  This is called apheresis.  They will have to do this over a period of days...usually around four in order to get enough stem cells to freeze.  All of this is done on an outpatient basis.  This diagram probably explains it better.

Things are moving along now.  Hopefully, the beginning of next week he'll see the stem cell doctor again and the date will be set for him to be admitted to the hospital for more chemo and the return of his stem cells.  We'll know more at that time.

I'll try and post updates as time allows.

We noticed today that the reporters were still camped out in the medical center to cover Congresswoman Gifford's recovery only now they have tents and someone brought in Port-A-Potties for them.  I guess they plan to stay for the duration.  I heard she might have had a minor setback and needs to stay in Intensive Care a while longer.  Hopefully, she'll be moved to Memorial Hermann's rehab hospital shortly.

Thanks again for your support and prayers.


  1. I never know that there was that much involved in the treatment of cancer. I pray that the Lord gives you guys the strength that you need to fight this disease.

    Hope everything goes well over the next few days.


  2. Betty, thank you for this update. Please let Reid know he continues to be on our groups (and my personal) daily prayer list.

    Hugs and hope.

  3. Heavens, it is so amazing to read about Reid's treatment. Best of luck for tomorrow's procedure.

  4. Thank you for the update. It is an amazing and exhausting-sounding process.
    Hugs and best wishes for the stem cell part.

  5. Thankfully we live in this day and age when all of these treatments that seem all but impossible, are possible.
    I'm so happy to hear that he's doing well.... I'll continue praying for Reid and your family!


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