Our superhero!

Our superhero!
Our superhero!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bone marrow miracles

This has been a week full of bone marrow information! On Wednesday, we found out that Blake is a bone marrow match for Ethan. This is a miracle in itself, as only 30% of bone marrow patients find a relative match. Each full-blooded sibling has a 25% chance of being a match. With Blake being his only full-blooded sibling, he didn't have the best chance of finding a relative match. The other part of the miracle is that they test for 6 genes in the stem cells, and Blake is a perfect 6 out of 6 match! One more part to the miracle is the timing of Blake's birth. We found out 3 days before Ethan was diagnosed that I was pregnant with Blake. Had we found out about Ethan first, I think we would have waited to have another baby until things settled down. On the other side, we had tried for several months to get pregnant before it happened. About 2 months before Blake was born, Viacord sent information to our doctors with a new program that they do. They save the siblings of cancer patients cord blood for FREE for 5 years. Had Blake been born earlier, we would not have been able to save Blake's cord blood. Keep this in mind as you continue reading.

We met with the bone marrow transplant specialist today. He confirmed that we do have enough stem cells saved in the cord blood that they will not have to use Blake himself as the donor. It will be all cord blood. They also told us that because we are using cord blood, it decreases several complications considerably. Some of the complications that are more common in transplant patients, such as graft vs host disease, or the cells not grafting at all, are dropped down to 5-10% because the cord blood stem cells are immature, and ready to take hold on a person. They are also "spunky" so to speak, and will fight their way in. The cells are also more pure and have not been exposed to diseases or immunizations. The bone marrow specialist said it is rare to have a siblings cord blood because first of all, not a lot of people are able to save it, and second, if you do save it, it is only a 25% chance that it is a match. This is the only case that he can think of that he has done that they have enough cord blood saved that they don't have to use the sibling at all. It is truly a miracle to have these stem cells, and the timing of Blake's birth. He is our little hero right now. I know our Heavenly Father had this plan for us. I know He saw the big picture, and it is such a testimony to me that He is in charge, and that we need to trust Him.

The biggest hurdle now is getting into remission. He will have his bone marrow tested between each month of treatments to see if he has reached remission yet. We were told today, however, that his spinal fluid test came back negative of leukemia cells, which is good news and shows that his body is at least responding to the chemo.

As far as the bone marrow treatment goes, they will get him into remission, and then he will have full body radiation for about 6 treatments. Then they will do high dosage chemo, where they will entirely kill all of his existing bone marrow. Then they will thaw Blake's frozen stem cells and transplant them into Ethan. They should know about 3 weeks after if the cells have grafted and are beginning to produce blood. It is truly a fascinating procedure, and it's amazing the technology we have!

As far as other news, Ethan has had a fever for the last 5 days, and it was found that he has mild pneumonia. They are not super worried because they caught it very quickly, and got a handle on it fast. They immediately put him on antibiotics to treat it, and it seems to be getting better. Now we are just waiting for his counts to recover, and we will be able to go home for a week or so before we start the next round of treatments.

As always, I am amazed at the love and generosity of people. They seem to know what we need, even before we know what we need sometimes, and are so willing to give. I am also so grateful grateful to my Heavenly Father and the knowledge that He is aware of me and my family. My heart is full from the many blessings and miracles we have seen.


  1. Thank you for sharing this journey. Watching Blake in Church on Sunday and seeing his happy smile, he truly is a gift from God sent for a higher purpose, to save his brother. What a testimony builder! Please let me know if I can do anything for your family. *hugs*

  2. Heavenly Father truly is a God of miracles! All these things truly do testify of Him and just how intricately involved He is in our lives.
    I am amazed by Ethan and the strong example of faith and courage he shows to all of us!
    We are still praying for you and your family! Thank you for being such an example of faith for me!

    Sure love you!

  3. I am always so amazed at the complexity of the events that lead up to all the miracles we see in our lives! Each little step had to be just so to have it all work and Heavenly Father is just absolutely amazing to have it all work out perfect!!
    I know how much he loves your family and Ethan, to have provided all of this for you!
    Hang in there Jen, I know that the road ahead is still full of lots of bumps, but knowing that HE is there and knows you, will help a lot.
    Love you, Deanna

  4. I love these posts! Truly huge blessings from these boys! They show all of us that Heavenly Father is right there, all the time. While we may feel powerless to help, they are in the best Hands possible. You guys are amazing!!!!

  5. Hi Jennifer. I work at ViaCord in digital marketing and came across your blog post. I'm sitting at my desk w/ tissues in hand reading Ethan's story. We are thrilled to know that Ethan & Blake are a perfect match. I wanted to reach out to personally thank you for spreading the word about ViaCord's Sibling Connection program and increasing awareness about cord blood stem cells. Your family will be in our thoughts in the coming weeks and we are sending virtual hugs your way. Lisa

    1. Lisa, I would like to thank you personally then for the Sibling Connection program. It has been such a huge blessing to us in our lives. It was always the hope that we wouldn't have to use it, but given the circumstances, we are so grateful to have it. I also appreciate that if the sibling ends up not needing it, it will go into the bank for others to use. I think it is a wonderful program, and I am so grateful to everyone, including you, who plays a role in our getting our little guy better. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!