by Kiki Streitberger
Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll always be a part of me
Mythology: An animal formed from parts of various animals. A thing which is hoped for but is illusory or impossible to achieve Biology: An organism containing a mixture of genetically different tissues, formed by processes such as fusion of early embryos, grafting, or mutation
3141 allogeneic stem cell transplants have been carried out in Germany in 2013 – one of the people undergoing the procedure was me. I had suffered from a rare form of leukaemia, which could only be cured by replacing my haematopoietic stem cells with those of a matching donor. I was lucky. Within six weeks they found a young man whose tissue type matched mine 100%. Once a donor was in place, my old blood cells, and with it my immune system, was completely destroyed. I had to stay in an isolation room where I was attached to tubes pumping different kinds of medication and blood cells through my body for 23.5 hours a day. Until day 0. In my case it was Friday the 13th, 2013 - the day that my new stem cells were transfunded into my veins. Amazingly those stem cells find their own way into the bone marrow where they will resume the production of blood cells - and indeed, after 12 days of no white blood cells detectable, there were a few… and slowly, slowly the little population grew and after a few weeks I was allowed outside for the first time. Still wearing a mask over my mouth and nose, but outside nevertheless. The person who donated his stem cells to save my life, I still don’t know. I hope to meet him once the two year restriction period is over. But already now, and for the rest of my life, his blood will flow through my veins. Genetically it’s always his. He’ll always be a part of me.
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