A Western Washington mother completes the story of how Puget Sound Blood Center platelet and blood donors saved her daughter’s life. Their donations kept her daughter alive until a cord blood donation helped cure her of leukemia. In her previous blog post, the mother told how no matching bone marrow donors could be found. However, cord blood (donated from the umbilical cord and placenta after birth) offered a second chance.
My husband spoke with a doctor who pioneered the use of cord blood for transplants, as well as from a doctor who was compiling all of the data from all cord blood transplants. They each spoke to my husband for over an hour. (Thank you, Doctors). They told us that the stem cells from cord blood transplants are much more flexible than the stem cells from bone marrow, one reason being that the cord blood circulates through both the baby and mother without reacting to either. Unless donated, cord blood is typically discarded. We opted to head east for her transplant, and a 5/6 matching cord was located (a very good match). (Thank you to whoever donated their cord & placenta! All we will ever know about the donor was that the baby was a girl).
The pre-transplant chemo and radiation really did kill all of our daughter’s blood cells (and her hair cells, skin cells, finger and toenails, etc.) and she lived on donated PRBCs (packed red blood cells) and platelets for the better part of 3 months. When her platelets were so low, she would bruise just from light touches, and her arms were always bruised from simply laying them on the armrests of chairs. (Thank you, thank you to all of these whole blood and platelet donors.) She received her new cord blood stem cells in a very anti-climactic transfusion in 2000. The recovery was long with much discomfort, but she was able to come home to Washington state in June. She has needed no further blood products, but we are all huge supporters of the PUGET SOUND BLOOD CENTER. (Thank you again, PUGET SOUND BLOOD CENTER.)
She started back to school in the fall of 2001, got her BA in 2003, and finished her MA in 2005. She now has a new blood type and is healthy, happy and employed.
And in case I forgot to say it: THANK YOU !
Thank you for extending your gratitude to donors, and for using your daughter’s story to inspire others to become donors! To help save patients such as this mother’s brave daughter, you can schedule an appointment at your local donor center. To learn more about how you can donate your baby’s cord blood, visit the Puget Sound Blood Center Cord Blood Program’s Web pages.
Sean DeButts, Social Media Coordinator
Puget Sound Blood Center