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This site is for student nurses or nurses starting out. Letters to a Young Nurse are blog posts written like letters to help you find your way and make your journey as a nurse less difficult. 


Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion Picnic 07.31.10

Today was an amazing day of celebration for the recipients of bone marrow transplants and their families. Today the Bone Marrow Transplant Program at Stanford Hospital had their yearly reunion picnic that they have had for 25 years. There were only a few patients who had recieved bone marrow transplants 25 years ago but today the number is close to a hundred.

I was honored  to be asked to be part of the staff working at the table for the Stanford Blood Center. I talked to many patients who had been living for many years post transplant. Some were 18, some 10, some 2, some just 1 year old since transplant patients count their first day of birth the day of the transplant. All of these people were living because of tissue called bone marrow and blood. The picture  is of Irish Jackman, RN and her patients’ daughter named Clarissa. Clarissa’s mother was 1 year post transplant and was planning on attending the reunion but got an infection and had to be hospitalized. Mom sent Dad and the kids out to the lawn to enjoy a day of good food and good people. Irish is an amazing nurse at the Infusion Treatment Area, part of the Stanford Cancer Center. When she wasn’t posing for pictures with little girls she was dabbing at her eyes to remove the tears of joy and sadness that she shared with all of these patients. Irish is one of the many nurses that infuses our blood products. She is on the front line watching as patients struggle with fatigue and infection and prays with them as they wait for their CBC (complete blood count) results to come back. Sometimes it is a good result and other times it is not so good and the patient has to stay to get red cells or platelets.

As I talked to patients who had survived and were thriving I was reminded that cancer is still a killer. One of our staff at SBC died yesterday of a 4 year battle with ovarian cancer. And this morning a patient with ALL who was days away from getting a bone marrow transplant and needed  granulocyte collections died. But Thursday we helped a woman get her blood drawn for our histocompatibility lab to see if she was a compatible match for her sister who needed bone marrow. There are miracles every day and I was witness to numerous walking miracles today. Life keeps going and it was the mission of all of us working the table today to tell the families of these miraculous transplant recipients that blood is a precious commodity that needs constant replenishing. One of the best sound bytes of the day came from a nurse practitioner, Kelly Bugos. She told us that because of SBC she gets to go home to her kids at night on time. She doesn’t have to spend hours deciding and agonizing over which patient gets blood and which one doesn’t. She is one of the first people to tell patients that blood may be needed over the course of their cancer treatments.

I was energized to hear that patients and their families are grateful and willing to tell their stories to get more donors to come in. The picture of all of the patients that were present at the picnic was awe inspiring. But I mentioned to Brooke that it would be even more amazing to see all of our donors standing next to all of the bone marrow transplant patients. Maybe next year.

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