most of you probably don’t know of my fascination with the operating room. during medical school, i secretly wanted to grow up to be a surgeon, but (no offense to my surgery friends), my personality just wasn’t that of a surgeon.
nevertheless, i remain fascinated by all that occurs in the o.r. and have longed to return there ever since my surgery rotation as a medical student finished six years ago.
on tuesday, i finally got that chance.
m.d. anderson is one of the few fellowships in the nation that requires their fellows to harvest the bone marrow of donors for transplant. for those of you who want some details, bone marrow harvesting is done under general anesthesia and requires the equivalent of about eighty consecutive bone marrow biopsies in order to harvest enough cells for transplantation to the recipient. the area that we harvest from is the posterior superior iliac spine (the bony prominence to either side of your lower back). by the time you have about forty biopsies done to each one of these sites, there is very little intact bone left in that area. it sounds brutal, but these donors wake up from anesthesia complaining of some “hip pain” and get discharged home with only mild oral pain relievers. the bone of the donor reforms fine, and there is very little risk to this procedure. truly amazing.
what’s even more amazing than the procedure is the fact that m.d. anderson is equipped to take the large volume of blood that we harvest in the operating room (about 3 liters) and separate out only the stem cells that are needed for transplant. then, the residual “mature” cells that are not needed for tranplant are given back to the donor as a blood transfusion prior to their being discharged from the hospital. this decreases the need for the donor to receive random donor blood to replace what was taken during the harvest.
sorry for such a weird blog entry.