A little step back

After all the good news from last week, this week I take a little step back.  My doctor’s secretary called me yesterday, and everyone knows that when your doctor calls out of the blue, it’s usually not to report that everything is in order.  Apparently, my blood results from this past Tuesday (Dec. 4) indicated extremely low levels of hemoglobin and platelets.  So low that I will very likely need a transfusion soon.  So, the doctor instructed me to go to PMH this Friday to have a blood test and if the levels are indeed below PMH’s cut-off (i.e., below 80 for hemoglobin and below 10 for platelets), I will receive a transfusion that same day.  I know this is not a “big” deal in the grand scheme of things, as most leukemia patients will get transfusions at some point in their treatments, but I have to admit I’m a little scared.  While the risks of being infected with HIV, Hepatitis A, B and C, etc. during a blood transfusion are much lower than in decades past, the risk is still there.  I will keep you updated of how it goes on Friday.

I would like to urge everyone to donate blood on a regular basis.  It will cost the donor a little of his/her time, but it saves lives.  There is very little downside for the donor but a lot of upside for the patient.  The cost/benefit analysis is overwhelmingly in favour of donating, don’t you think?  Please check out my “How You Can Help” page under #2 for additional details.  Or click on this link to be connected to the Canadian Blood Services website: www.blood.ca.  The need for blood donations is never-ending.  Please give.  Thank you very, very much!!! 

Many family and friends have asked about the status of my stem cell donor search.  I just found out yesterday that my high resolution HLA typing report came back from the lab and the search has officially begun!  I won’t know the results of the initial search until a few months later though.  The actual search of the worldwide database is quick, taking approximately a day, but the process of getting a suitable donor ready takes time.  There are many reasons for this:

  • some potential donors have moved since they first registered with a stem cell bank so it takes time to locate them – some are never located and need to be crossed off the list of potential donors;
  • some potential donors no longer qualify either because of age or they have developed various illnesses themselves – these donors need to be crossed off the list;
  • some potential donors decide not to donate for whatever reason – they need to be crossed off the list;
  • potential donors need to undergo additional testing – so this takes time.

I will not find out if I have a donor until they have located a suitable donor for me that is “ready-to-go”.  This is to prevent too much of an emotional roller-coaster ride for me.  If no donor is found after the initial search, the search is repeated once a month until a donor is found, hoping that new donors will enter the pool.

I know that my firm (Ernst & Young) and others are hard at work organizing stem cell donor drives for me to be held on December 13 and January 16.  I cannot thank them enough for their kindness and hard work.  They are my angels!

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4 Responses to A little step back

  1. Lindsey says:

    Hi Winnie,

    I heard about the stem cell donor drive through your work and we are busy promoting it at our offices and I’ve posted your story on my personal Facebook page (I have at least a couple of very suitable candidates on my friend’s list!). Your story has definitely touched me – and although I’m not a likely donor, I will be coming to the drive and getting my name on the list.

    I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers and hope a match is found for you soon!


  2. Tiffany says:

    I used to a regular blood donor in Hongkong but have never donated here or in Canada because the nurse told me that they will take the same amount as the men do. But now, I will reconsider it and take up my courage. I will encourage Maxime to follow suit! Well, if he does, it will be a miracle! 🙂

    • helpsavewinnie says:

      Hi Tiffany,

      Wow, I didn’t know they take the same volume of blood no matter if you’re a man or woman. But in any event, only do so if you are comfortable! Don’t push yourself too hard! Talk later!

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