a long-awaited return to the o.r.

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.

sacroiliac_psis.jpg

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “a long-awaited return to the o.r.

  1. isnt it such a strange coincidence that i had almost the exact same entry on my blog yesterday about my daily activities involving bone marrow. truly amazing! j/k! i really do explain bone marrow transplant to people on almost a daily basis. you’d be proud!

  2. Keri

    If I ever get matched to be a donor, I hope I can come there and let you harvest it!

  3. Dawn

    WOW! These blog entries are getting more detailed and interesting. Love the picture
    for clarification. The only way I’ll ever be harvested is by you my brother. Take care!

    Dawn

  4. Tonya

    hm, sounds fun.

    Hey, doc. I just saw the LPB special and remembered the very many moving photos you took while holed up in the hospital saving lives. I emailed Whitney immediately to share with her, since she had the exclusive interview with you. May I say, I have never been so proud of an individual, or be so secretevely envious of someone who made such a big impact on so many people.

    You’re one of a kind. You’re truly loved and will always be our “hero”

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