The infusion….

Sorry for those who don’t like the gory details, but here they are anyway….actually it wasn’t too bad!

The infusion process was super organised and efficient, amazing nursing staff facilitated the whole thing.

David started the day fine, but started to feel very apprehensive as preparations started.

  1. First his room was prepared which involved bringing in of oxygen equipment and heart measure equipment, all precautionary but doesn’t help the nerves.
  2.  David was then administered with a triple cocktail of anti-nausea drugs, David has had all these drugs before during chemo, but never at the same time…..
  3. Next he was put to bed, plugged in and then given a super strength anti- histamine.  The anti-histamine is to prevent any reaction that some patients have to the preservatives used when freezing the stem cells after harvesting. This anti-histamine had David drifting in and out of consciousness for the whole procedure.
  4. They started to tell David why the precautions, he didn’t want to hear them.
  5. The nurse put in a drip line for the infusion – they don’t use the port as the stem cells are quite dense so can cause a blockage in the port.

As David was starting to  feel groggy, he had one concern, “Make sure they are mine”. He didn’t have to worry, before they would open a bag they would make David verbally confirm his full name and date of birth.

David, after the IV was inserted, already groggy

Then we had to wait for the stem cells and the lab technician to arrive….which they did in style….looking sort of like R2D2

The arrival of the cells in R2-D2

I had a crash course in cryogenic cell freezing – once the cells were harvested a CD34 test was done to identify the stem cells. These were then frozen in bags, which were placed in metal cassettes.  When the cells are frozen they have to take the temperature down slowly and consistently in 2 degree increments until -180degrees is reached. If this is not done carefully the stem cells can crystallise and crack.  Stem cells are fragile, unlike lymphocytes which are much hardier.

Once the stem cells were delivered, and David was ready, they bags were removed from the cassettes and warmed up in saline to just below body temperature

Putting your hand into -180deg.
The warm bath, used to defrost the cells
Check it’s the right cells
After defrosting

Once the cells had defrosted, which took minutes, the bags were hung and infused via the drip line.  There were 2 bags in total, each took about 13 mins to run in. Everything was kept super sterile, the 2 nurses were with us the whole time constantly monitoring heart activity, blood pressure, temperature and the flow of the drip.

Bag 1 hung.
The cells.

Then that was it ! All done…. Now it’s the critical 2-3 week wait while the cells start regenerating in the body and start rebuilding David’s immune system.  All we need to do is wait and stay healthy.

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