On Friday, February 3rd, 2017, around 12:15pm, eight million stem cells were pushed into Justin’s body to start building his new immune system.
It was amazing to witness just how informal the actual procedure is. A bag of stem cells, which resembles a bag of tomato soup, is hung from his IV pole, the tubing is connected to his port and then for about 20 minutes, we sit and wait for all of the cells to find their way into his body.
With his “transplant song” playing in the background, we chatted with his nurse, took pictures with his cells, and waited. It was, at the same time, an amazing and underwhelming moment. There was no grand ceremony, no wheeling off into a procedure room, just a couple of family members, his nurse, and the cells. Impressive, nonetheless.
In December, I wrote a public letter on my blog to his donor. I was overwhelmed with the selflessness that encourages someone to donate their own cells to a perfect stranger. I know very little about this person. I know that they are a domestic (live within the United States), male, and that on Thursday afternoon, they were in a procedure room donating cells for Justin. About 15 million cells to be exact. Those cells arrived at Detroit Metro Airport at 7:58PM on Thursday evening to make their way to Ann Arbor, eventually being transported directly to Justin’s BMT Unit room. Through my own creepy stalker-ish ways, I have narrowed down the city of origin to New York, Baltimore, or Peoria, Illinois. For at least the next year, we’ll have no idea.
For now, Justin is doing well. He is balancing in the couple of days post-treatment, and before his counts begin to drop dramatically. The fight is far from over, but we have gotten through what is expected to be the worst of it. Justin’s age, positive attitude, and humor are all on his side.
He has a fun couple of days planned, slumber parties with his sister, watching the Super Bowl with some friends, and lots of video games, snacks, and naps in between. I will be heading back into the office on Monday for the first time in almost two weeks, before heading back to my home away from home: The Michigan Medicine Bone Marrow Transplant Unit.
Everyone has been so supportive lately, and I couldn’t finish this post without expressing my gratitude for a few of our loved ones. Thank you to Justin’s sister Jaime, for coming, fresh off a plane from California to be a part of Justin’s transplant and staying with him overnight so I could go home for some sleep and a shower. Thank you to my parents for coming to the hospital to also be a part of Justin’s transplant, my dad especially who took two days off of work to be there. And to everyone else that has been a part of this process: Thank you!