Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Robin Roberts observes 5th anniversary of her bone marrow transplant on Good Morning America, as transplantation treatments among siblings or even strangers become much more common


This morning, Sept. 20, 2017, ABC News “Good Morning America” aired a special fifth anniversary celebration of (gay) news anchor’s Robin Roberts’s bone marrow transplant for myelodysplastc syndrome.
  
This form of early leukemia (which can become acute, AML) typically occurs after age 70, and often has very vague symptoms. I would wonder about the use of chemotherapy in the elderly, who have often have currently good life quality without symptoms, and would wonder if it extends survival. But in younger patients radical treatment seems needed. The most likely life-threatening events could include severe infections (especially pneumonias) or other tumors because immune system function is compromised, in a way somewhat like HIV.  
  
It appears that earlier chemotherapy, as well as exposure to hydrocarbons and tobacco smoke become risk factors.  Genetics plays a role.   Roberts reportedly had breast cancer earlier, so the earlier treatments could have led to this syndrome. 
  
  
Robin talked about sibling bone marrow donation, and noted that technology has made less exact genetic matches from donors work. 
  
Sloan Kettering has a transition apartment for patients recovering, but they must have 24-hour caregivers.
  
I didn’t grow up in a culture that encouraged “body part sharing”, because in earlier times radical cures like this were not yet possible.  It certainly provides a twist on notions of family values, and the idea that nature doesn’t need everyone to procreate.  

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