Day zero is the name given to the day of your stem cell transplant. This will happen this afternoon, 48 hours exactly after my chemotherapy took place. The extra day has been to allow my kidney time to flush the Melphalan out of my body, so it won’t kill the newly introduced stem cells.
I write this morning ahead of the transplant, not knowing how I’ll feel at the end of the process. If I can I’ll post a shorter update post after the process has taken place.
This is what I know should happen.
- At about 4pm the nurses will arrive with my frozen stem cells and will confirm my identity and ensure they are the correct cells.
- The cells will be thawed in a water bath (possibly in the room) and infused directly by injection into my Hickman Line.
- Prior to infusion I will be given Sodium Bicarbonate (to neutralise acids), Steroids (to suppress my immune system) and Diuretics (to ensure all the extra fluid I’m getting is being passed out).
- The infusion itself will take about an hour.
- The most common side effects are due to the preservative dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) and are as follows:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach cramps and abdominal pain
- A strong taste of garlic or sweet corn
- These effects are temporary
- Other possible side effects will be prepared for with medication and consequently lessened. These include:
- Shortness of breath
- Low blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- The process of engraftment is where the introduced stem cells migrate back to the bone marrow.
- Here they settle and begin the process of forming new blood cells.
- This process will take 10 -14 days and in this time I will be immunocompromised making me open to infections.
- I will remain in isolation until my blood counts have sufficiently risen.