Pam and Fred Koch of Buckingham returned home this week from Michigan where they met a very special person. Sixteen months ago, Pam was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, and a perfect bone marrow stem cell donor was located for her. A year ago after massive doses of chemotherapy, she had the transplant, and in October of this year she learned the name and home city of her donor. Of course she wanted to travel there immediately to meet him. The three spent a long weekend together, telling stories about their respective procedures, answering questions, becoming good friends, and exchanging lots of special hugs.
Craig is a 47-year-old single parent father of an eighteen-year-old son who lives in Suttons Bay, Michigan and is in the culinary field. All ten of his antigens which were tested as well as his blood type matched Pam's perfectly, so the transplant was successful. Currently 100% of Pam's blood is donor blood, and she has one X and one Y chromosome, just like any normal "male." She thinks she inherited his like for ice cream and hopes she didn't receive the balding gene!
Craig says that he has always been a blood donor and read about a man who had donated stem cells twice. He thought that would be a good thing to do, so about fifteen years ago he signed up with the donor bank and was tested which involved merely taking a swab of the inside of the mouth. Within the last ten years he was called twice and agreed to go through with the procedure, but for one reason or another, the transplants never took place. He was very excited to be able to help someone out this time, although he was told the recipient was a twenty-five year old woman. He said it didn't cost anything and didn't hurt but was just uncomfortable as he had to lie still for about five hours and couldn't move either hand so couldn't read or write at all.
Before her transplant, Pam received a total of thirty-three pints of blood and 32 pints of platelets and was at the hospital several times a week over several months. Now she is feeling great and is getting stronger every day. She would encourage everyone to donate blood, plasma, platelets, or stem cells. It doesn't hurt that much, and you too may be able to save someone's life!