Day Zero: Stem Cell Transplant

A major milestone in the journey happened today with the re-introduction of my previously harvested stem cells, all without complications or side effects, except that apparently I smell like creamed corn. Thankfully, I can’t smell it but everyone else can and it will last a day or two.

For the highlights of the process here is a quick video:

The day started off at 6am with the standard blood work and a very kind nurse bringing me a coffee and toast with peanut butter. Breakfast is still hours away.

Breakfast of Champions

At about 8:30 it’s breakfast and a little later in the morning Shirley arrives with Starbucks. We chat and visit and then it’s lunch. Sure is a lot of eating around here!

Lunch, pizza & corn beef sandwich

Shortly after 1pm the process begins when my stem cells arrive with another nurse who looks after the frozen cells. They are extracted from a liquid nitrogen container and then verified that they are mine, quite carefully, which is a good thing.

Out of the deep freeze

They have their own aluminium protection case.

Then they are placed in a temperature controlled water bath to bring them back up to body temperature.

Coming up to body temperature
And they are ready to go

The next step takes place in just under 30 minutes for optimum results. The stem cells are gravity fed into me, bypassing the IV pump which apparently would damage the cells. There is a manual process to force the cells in but it is not required as the PICC line is working well.

Incoming stem cells

This process is repeated for the 2nd bag of stem cells and the whole thing wraps up in under 90 minute. I experience none of the potential side effects, not even the most common one which is a tickle in your throat that makes you cough.

Happy to have successfully completed the stem cell transplant

Thanks to everyone for the prayers, support and encouragement on this milestone day. Shirley and I appreciate you all so much.

Next phase is the recovery of various blood components that have been affected by the chemotherapy, specifically the white blood cell count, hemoglobin, platelets & neutrophils. Once the levels are back up to something acceptable and I’m feeling well, I get discharged home. Current estimate is another 2 weeks in hospital.

Wondering why I smell like creamed corn? They mix some form of preservative in with my stem cells before freezing them. Part of the way the body gets rid of the preservative is to expel it in your breath. Why creamed corn? I have no idea.

Happy Socks are ON! Transplant done!