Friday, November 20, 2015

What is Day Zero?

I have received many questions regarding what exactly "Day Zero" is, in regard to Curt's journey.
When a patient undergoes transplant, there are many obstacles that must be conquered before a transplant can be received. I talked a little bit about it in the last post, but basically in order to receive a transplant, the recipient's immune system must be as low as possible. 

You see, the human body is brilliant and knows when something foreign has entered it. A healthy immune system will recognize the intruder and attempt to rid the body of it. We can see this in the case of an infection. The body senses that something abnormal is in the system, it increases it's soldiers (white blood cells), gets angry (produces inflammation and warmth), and attempts to rid the body of the infection (drainage). 

Well in the case of a transplant, we never want to recipient's body to know that there is a foreign body inside of it. In this case the foreign body will be the donor's bone marrow. In order to make Curt's body accept this marrow as his own is to kill the immune system so that it is too weak to even notice the donor's marrow. This process is only able to occur with the chemotherapy, radiation and immunosuppressants. Curtis will actually have to continue to take immunosuppressants for the rest of his life in order to prevent his body from rejecting the donor's marrow. 

Now as you can see, there are many obstacles that sit in the way of transplant and that is why we call it a journey. The day that Curt receives the transplant is considered "Day Zero". It's almost as if he will have a new birthday. Each day after transplant is counted as +1, +2, +3 etc. The farther away from "Day Zero" Curtis can become, the less likely his body will reject the transplant, and the closer he will be to remaining cancer free.

Because Curtis' immune system will be so weak, and each day counts, he will be unable to have visitors in the hospital as the risk for infection at this time is incredibly high. Being in a sort of isolation will be difficult, but that is where we ask that mail take place of your visits. As soon as we know the address and room Curtis will be in for the duration of the transplant, I will post here for your information.

You didn't know that you would be getting a science lesson through this post did you?

Please let me know if anyone has any questions that we can answer for you.

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