Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I'm Not Your Type

As crappy as this transplant thing has been on a practical level, there are so many unbelievable science-fiction elements to it that I constantly find myself amazed that it was even possible.

First of all, let's just discuss the actual process. They were able to put someone else's stem cells into me, those cells just knew where to go, and--Great Scott!--someone else's basic life essence is now mine too. Even more amazing, I am up and walking around (albeit slowly and immune-deprived) 15 days later. (Although I will cop to my new senior citizen daily routine of afternoon nap from 2-4, early bird dinner at 6, and bed at 9pm right after Matlock...)

Secondly, I'm sitting here at the clinic getting a red cell transfusion. Red cells are the last to grow, usually between 4 and 6 months post-transplant. But here's the extremely cool, bionic, frankenstein aspect of it: right now I have no blood type. I used to be O, my donor is A. O types apparently have an "anti-A" element to them, so it's one of the hardest switches to make, with my remnant O's fighting my new A's all the way. So right now my blood type, for lack of an actual type is "ABO Unresolved." That's pretty damn cool--and weird--and unbelievable in pure medical terms if you consider that not long ago we were using leeches and not washing our hands between leg amputations at Bull Run.

I recognize that my biochem and med school friends will perhaps find all this wide-eyed wonder a little ridiculous. But I feel it. And I'm committed to finding and expounding that wonder because every day I wake up and have breakfast with The Bambina, I feel the joyous disbelief that I'm still here. And, as I've said before, I thank God that somebody out there studied science.

2 comments:

nm in mn said...

Blood types have always confused me. I used to be a big believer in a universal blood type - just make everyone the same - I had a master plan for slowly changing people's blood, or working with newborns and as people expired, we would eventually have a master blood type. Then I mentioned this theory to a few medically inclined friends and once the laughter died, so did my idea.

Vigilante said...

Yes! Thank God for Her Science!