Esther's transplant went well and was for the most part uneventful. Her cells came up out of the liquid nitrogen, frosted. They went straight into a special bath that brought them up to body temperature.
One of the portions of her set up was this syringe. On one end it was connected to the bag of stem cells and the other direction went to Esther. This allowed her to pull the cells from the bag into the syringe and then she could know exactly what volume was drawn from the bag and then put back into Esther's body.
Next the syringe was hooked up to a pump and the first bulk of cells were administered to Esther over about 30 minutes.
There was one hiccup. Sometimes in the freezing and thawing process, platelets in the collection will clot and form a particulate in the cells. There is a filter in the bag, but they got passed the filter and went into the syringe. This made it all tricky because it wouldn't be good to infuse a glob of clotted platelets into Esther's body. She did a great job of managing this booger floating in the cells and saline and was able to get all of the cells and trap the glob at the very end. They sent the tubing, bag, syringe, and glob back down to the lab to verify the suspicion it was indeed platelets. You can see the glob at the bottom part of the syringe directly above my thumb.
Rebecca suggested we name the booger. Esther decided to name it "Carla." Carla is also the name of a nurse here whom Esther loves. What a silly girl!
Esther handled everything so well today! There is a preservative that protects the cells during the freezing process. This preservative causes Esther to emit an odor reminiscent of creamed corn, but maybe that creamed corn has sat out a bit too long. It should go away in a day or two, but for now, Esther is quite stinky. You can smell it as you open her door, quite strange.
Praise God for this day and science that is able to treat this cancer! As I was talking with Esther's nurse today, she mentioned that when we first became an oncology nurse over 8 years ago, it was not common for families to choose to not treat neuroblastoma because the survival rate was so poor. In that time, leaps have been made to give these kids a chance and stem cell transplant is one of those big leaps!
Now the job of the cells is to find the empty places where Esther's marrow once lived, engraft there, and begin to create the basic building blocks of physical life, red and white blood cells and platelets. Thank you for praying. I also heard of people fasting yesterday and today, thank you for loving Esther in this was committing yourself to prayer. We are thankful.