What’s It Like to go through Bone Marrow Transplant

In 2014, the last year of my bachelors, I was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a blood transfusion dependent rare disease causing the red blood cells production to cease. I didn’t know at that time what I would have to go through. I got blood transfusions, tried different medicines but there was no improvement. The only option I was left with was a bone marrow transplant (an expensive procedure with a lot of complications involving high doses of chemotherapy and transplantation of matched bone marrow)

I remained dependent on blood transfusions (2 bags/month) for one and a half years and was then admitted to Armed Forces Bone Marrow Transplant Centre (Combined Military Hospital) Rawalpindi, Pakistan for bone marrow transplant as my elder brother’s bone marrow matched mine. I received a high dose of chemo for 10 days and then bone marrow was transfused through the vein.

I lost my hair and my skin went dark. I came smiling but my smile had gone. I couldn’t eat and vomited whenever I tried to eat. I lost a lot of weight. Those 28 days in a small four walled room were the worst days of my life. I was finally discharged with a lot of medications and finally got to meet my parents. I had to wear a face mask and had to take care as my immunity was zero. I was prone to infections. I had to go for check-ups twice a week. I saw patients who couldn’t get a transplant as they couldn’t find a matched marrow. I saw patients lose their lives in the procedure. I saw patients whose transplant didn’t work and their condition got worse.

I received another chemotherapy as I was still transfusion dependent and they said my bone marrow was going into post-transplant pure red cell aplasia. After some days I got hemorrhagic cystitis as a side effect. There was blood in my urine and I had to go to the restroom every five minutes. Along with that, I got Cytomegalovirus Infection. I was readmitted for 20 more days. More than 30 cannulas pierced my veins. I saw salts and medications dripping through my veins all day long. I was discharged as I got better. I had lost 10 kg of my weight by that time. I used to think why I had accepted this treatment and why I was chosen for this. After some days my blood counts became better and I was no longer dependent on transfusions. With time my counts kept improving. I got my immunizations after 15 months. I also got another complication called Herpes Zoster infection. I got medications for that and I recovered from that too. Now it has been 21 months since the transplant and I have got a job in my field of Medical Laboratory Technology.

During my illness, I lost my father. His prayers kept me alive and strong and made me fight this monstrous disease.
I was lucky to have Major General Tariq Mehmood Satti as my doctor, who was very kind-hearted and caring. With time I saw many of my close friends distance themselves from me. I guess smoking was the only thing that kept us together and I gave it up before my transplant.

What I learned is that if God wants He can save you from so many complications and if He doesn’t, you can’t live for a single second.

The purpose for writing all this is solely to help those who are going through tough times in their lives and not to brag about my sufferings. Just believe in God and remember that He is the only one who can get you out of your tough times.

Atique Mangla
http://tikumangla.blogspot.com
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