Diary of my Bone Marrow Donation Process via Peripheral Blood Stem Cells Collection

This morning, I went to SGH to start my first dose of GCSF (Neupogen – Filgrastim) injection. After the injection, I wonder what kind of chemical reactions are taking place inside me right now. As this is the first time I’m doing a stem cell harvest, I’m a bit nervous. There is no conclusive documentation on any long term effects thus far on use of GCSF on donors for periperal blood stem cells collection. I guess there is no point worrying about it, I just have to live life every moment and make sure I’m well covered by insurance!

I will use this post to keep track of my whole donation process, from the injection of GCSF to the collection and beyond, to record on the symptoms or effects that I felt during the process. My schedule for the donation is as below:

Day 1: 1st March 2012 Thursday – Injection of GCSF
Day 2: 2nd March 2012 Friday – Injection of GCSF
Day 3: 3rd March 2012 Saturday – Injection of GCSF
Day 4: 4th March 2012 Sunday – Injection of GCSF
Day 5: 5th March 2012 Monday – Injection of GCSF (If my white blood cells does not exceed limit) + Peripheral Blood Stem Cells Collection
Day 6: 6th March 2012 Tuesday – Periperal Blood Stem Cells Collection
Day 7: 7th March 2012 Wednesday – Spare Day (Peripheral Blood Stem Cells Collection)
Day 8: 8th March 2012 Thursday – Spare Day (Peripheral Blood Stem Cells Collection)

1 Mar 2012 Thur
09:39am
Took my first dose of GCSF injection. Felt a bit like someone just pinched me at my abdomen at the injection site, otherwise feeling ok.
12:17pm
Still feeling fine so far. No side effects.
11.31pm
Feeling fine so far. Alrite going to sleep to wake up early for tomorrow’s 2nd dose of injection!

2 Mar 2012 Fri
09:27am
Took my 2nd dose of injection. Think the nurse inject the contents slightly fast so felt a bit more pain at the site. But otherwise feeling good.
2pm plus
Felt a bit stiff at the back, not sure is it cos I have been lying on bed for a while. Otherwise,still okie so far.

3 Mar 2012 Sat
09:50am
Into the 3rd day of GCSF injection. So far so good.

Sticker for my appointment at Haematology Centre

4 Mar 2012 Sun
09:50am
Went straight to the nurse ward today as Haematology Centre is not opened today. Took blood test also to check my WBC. Everything is fine so far. Hope everything goes smoothly.

View of Duxton from Bro’s Ward

With my bro!

5 Mar 2012 Mon
09:45am
Started my apheresis today. Took some time to set up the machine. The nurse gave me some local anesthesia on my right arm and then inserted the needle in but the blood vessel wall was too thin so it sort of “burst”. The needle was then reinserted to my left arm and it was ok.
1:50pm
Took my 5th injection of Neupogen.
4:15pm
Finished my apheresis for the day! Think I collected about 80ml plus worth of stem cells for my bro. Tomorrow I shall continue once more! So far feeling good, no dizziness, no nausea etc. It was quite relaxing in fact!

Extracting and Returning of Blood to my left arm on the first day of apheresis

With my book to accompany me on the 1st day of apheresis

The machine for apheresis

Lunch for the 1st day – Chinese Full Set (Steam Fish)!

Visiting my bro after the 1st day of apheresis session. Feeling great!

All bandaged up again after the session haha

6 Mar 2012 Tue
09:50am
Started my 2nd round of apheresis. The nurses had already set up the machine and were waiting for me haha. Today I had to have needles inserted into both my arms! One for drawing the blood and the other for returning to me. The machine is supposed to be faster and today should end earlier.
03:30pm
Finished for the day. I rested and lay on the bed till 4pm before going off to find my brother. It’s so peaceful in the room doing apheresis. No one to disturb you. You don’t need to worry about anything. Just feel at peace with myself. Thanks Nurse Suhaida, Suriyani and Wu Hong for taking care of me today!
11:07pm
Only a bit tired cos have been out the whole day. Other than that, it has been a very smooth process so far 🙂

1st attempt fail on 1st day to insert the needle to the blood vessel. But it’s not painful, just don’t look nice. After a while, it should clear up =)

Today I have to insert needles into my right … and left arms haha

The room I’m in, quiet and peaceful =)

Lunch for the 2nd Day – Western Set Chicken Mariana (Menu A for Ward A!)

Bandaged up on my right arm …

And on my left arm

7 Mar 2012 Wed
09:50am
Started the last day of apheresis to keep the bag of mature stem cells as spare. Today is supposed to be shorter, probably lasts about 3 hours.
02:30pm
Guess the nurse was wrong haha. Finally finished at about 2.30pm and I just lay on the bed there to enjoy the quiet peaceful moment before going to visit my brother at 3pm.
4pm
Went for my 2nd interview at Keppel Energy! Feeling good so far except for feeling a bit sleepy and tired haha.

3rd day: Collecting on one arm again haha

11 Mar 2012 Sun
12:38am
A bit of yellowish now, but I guess it should be clearing up quite soon. No pain, no soreness =)

The redness turned to a bit of yellowish. There’s no pain or soreness =)

14 Mar 2012 Wed
8:08pm
Cleared up quite a bit already!

Almost cleared up le =)

16 Mar 2012 Fri
10:00am
Went back for the first checkup after the bone marrow donation. Took blood test first and have to wait for 1 hour to see the doctor and find out the results of the blood test!
11:30am
Finally met up with Dr Linn. She said that my white blood cells (WBCs) were a bit low, but that this is normal because after injecting the GCSF to stimulate the production, the body started to slow down the natural production of the WBCs as it detected a lot of the WBCs in circulation. She said further that after a while, the body will sense that the WBCs had fallen and will start to produce again, so nothing to worry about. I’m so glad! My next followup checkup will be one year later. So till then!

28 Mar 2012 Wed
10:23pm
Alrite, the bruise finally cleared up le! =)

All cleared up!

15 Mar 2013 Fri
Went for my one year post bone marrow donation 4 days after brother passed away. The transplant had been a glimmer of hope for him, but it wasn’t to be.

My checkup went smoothly. The doc did a full blood count and everything was okie except that my red blood count was slightly low. We don’t think it is anything to worry about but she still scheduled me for another checkup in Aug just to confirm that the results this round was a bit of an anomaly. I will update again on my Aug checkup results.

4th Oct 2013 Fri
My checkup was postponed to Oct. The final results showed that all readings were normal this time round. I was duly discharged and no longer need to do any follow-up check post bone marrow donation. Vadiou, the receptionist at Haematology Centre, still remembered my bro and asked after my mum. She said my bro brought laughter to the people around here. How I wished he is still here with us.

I went to Ward 72 and managed to catch up with Rez, a nurse who had taken good care of my bro during his stay. Thanked him once more, for this is the least I can do for my bro.

Epilogue
Bone marrow donation need not be as painful as you had once thought. Today, it can be done via Peripheral Blood Stem Cells (PBSC), which is almost like a blood donation. Many leukemia patients out there are still holding on to some hope that they can find a suitable donor. It really takes very little effort on our part. One day, when we look back, we may just wonder how amazing that a simple act of kindness can bring so much joy to others. I have already registered as a bone marrow donor.

If you have any comments or queries on bone marrow donation, you can drop me a note and I will try to answer where I can.

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One comment

  1. Pingback: Bone Marrow Transplant – Stem Cells Infusion (Day 0) : TJ Fights Cancer

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