Stem cells infusion day is also known as the patients’ new birthday as they have been given a new lease of life. Now I can celebrate two birthdays in a year, how cool is that?
Breakfast was served but I was still feeling bloated and nauseated. I thought that my body (and the new stem cells) needed the nutrition and so I must try to eat. An idea came… I swallowed two spoonful of my food and soon enough I was having the vomit bag in front of me. It felt great to let out the gases trapped in the gut, I had no problem finishing the entire breakfast set then.
“Dear nausea, I can’t stop you from emptying my stomach BUT you can’t stop me from filling it with food either!!!”
The stem cells were ready by late afternoon, freshly harvested from my brother’s blood. There was no operation involved as pictured by many. It was just a simple infusion just like any blood and platelet transfusion.
My brother kept a log of his peripheral stem cells donation on his blog. Peripheral blood stem cells donation is now preferred over the invasive bone marrow harvesting which requires operation. Now, saving a leukaemia or lymphoma patient who requires bone marrow transplant is almost similar to platelet donation. I am lucky to have a complete match with my siblings. There are many patients worldwide holding on to a hope of finding a full or closely matched bone marrow. You can provide a gift of tomorrow!
My first blood donation was done at the University’s Red Cross Blood Donation Drive. As a donor, I have always wondered who would be the recipient of my blood unit. Regardless of who he or she is, I felt great knowing that my blood would save someone.
On my first admission into SGH, my haemoglobin and platelet counts were 5.10 g/dl (normal range is 14 – 18 g/dl) and 30.0 x 10^9/L (normal range is 140 – 440 x 10^9/L) respectively. The presence of blast cells had caused a large dip to my haemoglobin and platelet level. Thanks to blood donors, I was able to top up my red blood cells and platelets on days that they were low. So I switched side from a donor to a recipient, and from feeling great to being grateful to the kind donors.
Staying in the haematology ward was an eye opener to me. Patients with different blood disorders, at some point of time, require blood and platelet that match their blood group. Hidden from the public eyes, here’s a busy place where blood units are in high demand and transfusions are going on 24 hours round the clock. All these would not be possible without the help of donors and the blood bank.
Although researchers are currently working on producing synthetic blood from stem cells, the first clinical trial on human is only expected within the next five years. Blood donors are still very much required! I sincerely hope all my healthy friends will consider donating their blood to help others. Become a blood donor champion today and influence more friends to join you. You can find out more about blood donation through the Singapore Health Science Authority (Blood Bank) website here.
P.S. Chemotherapy is wiping out my blood cells slowly. I’m going to receive some platelets today and most likely a unit of blood tomorrow. Thank you, donor!