Krista’s Marrow Transplant Story

Posted May 6th, 2013 by Be The Match and filed in Patient Stories
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Krista “There were extremely hard days, but through all the suffering there were many blessings” – Krista’s Transplant Story

It was in July of 2005 when Krista first learned that she had acute myeloid leukemia (AML). She had experienced severe anemia, strange/easy bruising and sinus problems, leading her to see a doctor.  After her AML diagnosis and treatment, Krista was in remission for three years, until her relapse in August of 2008.

“Thank you to the Momma who made the decision to donate her baby’s cord blood.”

Krista was told that she would need a marrow transplant to live. After nearly four months of searching for a marrow match with no success, Krista’s team of doctors began searching the Be The Match Registry® for a viable cord blood donation. The Be The Match Registry partners with registries all over the globe to find matching adult donors and cord blood units for searching patients. Remarkably, a matching cord blood unit was found in Australia that had been frozen for 10 years, waiting for a match like Krista.

Before her transplant, Krista underwent a week of high-dose chemotherapy and three days of full-body radiation. “I was tied down on a board for the radiation and since I couldn’t move, I just fell asleep,” said Krista, “the days after I was quite ill from the toxins and damage.”

On the day of the transplant, Krista received an injection of the life-saving cells in her port like any normal transfusion, but during the process she got a “bad tingle” in her throat and had trouble breathing. Hospital staff was right there with Krista throughout the process to ensure her safety.

My doctor said it was up to God because they’d done all they could do.”

Krista’s recovery was not typical, it was just plain hard as she dealt with complication after complication. She reacted so violently to the prophylactic medications (received prior to transplant) that her organs shut down. Her doctors decided to put her in a coma in order to save her life. Miraculously, Krista woke up 2 weeks later with no terrible long term damage. “My doctor said it was up to God because they’d done all they could do,” said Krista.

Unfortunately that was not all Krista went through in the first 100 days after transplant. Krista got severe mucositis that almost took her life—causing malnutrition because she was unable to eat or drink for 30 days. Krista also experienced acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) during this time (now under control with the right treatment plan).

After two and a half months in the hospital and a few weeks in a hotel next to the hospital, Krista was able to return home to continue her recovery.

New Normal

Now, four years later, life for Krista is not completely “back to normal”, but she is adjusting just fine to her new life.  “I’m doing very well. Laughing a lot, enjoying my family and learning new things…sounds like normal life,” said Krista. “I can’t run anymore and am not able to hike like I used to, but I’ve come to accept my new normal and am loving it.”

In celebration of her four-year transplant birthday, Krista held a Be The Match marrow registry drive, to help more patients like her find the life-saving marrow match that they need.

“There were extremely hard days, but through all the suffering there were many blessings,” said Krista. “Without the life-saving decision of that Australian mommy to donate her baby’s cord blood to the public registry, I wouldn’t be here today to raise my own two boys!”

To read more about Krista’s transplant journey, visit her blog.

One Response to “Krista’s Marrow Transplant Story”

  1. Fred Rist says:

    I have scanned Krista’s blog and am amazed with what she has been through, her commitment, and her faith. I had AML 9 years ago and had a transplant from my older sister 8-1/2 years ago. Unlike Krista’s, my transplant went smoothly, but I did have a period of time where it was difficult to eat due to damage caused by the pre-transplant treatments.

    The next three years were very difficult due to GVHD in the colon. My transplant teams did their best, but they were and are still learning. Finally they chose to use a immuno-suppression drug for Crohn’s disease which finally ended the the GVHD.

    I also have adjusted to the new normal as Krista’s with significant muscle loss and peripheral neuropathy. I thankful to be alive and enjoying each day.

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