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On October 12th we received a call from Iraq that our son appeared to have had a relapse of the leukemia which he suffered during his senior high school. He had deployed to Iraq only four months earlier to serve his country. He considered himself lucky that an oncologist was at the base he was at and recognized his symptoms. He considered himself lucky that there was an oncology nurse who knew that, with no white blood cells, he could die of the slightest infection, and with no platelets he could bleed to death from bruising,. He considered himself lucky when he shared a medical evacuation flight from Iraq with a plane of severely wound soldiers that had come under attack that day.

We felt lucky to have Jesse depart Iraq and we were happy to have him eventually at Walter Reed. We were witnesses to the overwhelming number of wounded soldiers there. Jesse received his first two rounds of chemotherapy at Walter Reed. On Thanksgiving night, Jesse finally arrived at a hospital in Tucson after a brutal trip across the country just before his second set of chemotherapy started to bring his blood counts down to almost zero. He received a port in his brain so that he could have chemo delivered to his cerebral spinal fluid, but the port became infected, prolonging his hospitalization.

On Christmas Eve, we got our wish, and Jesse was released from the hospital. The initial treatments now complete, he will now face the biggest challenge yet.

After Jesse gains strength, he will go through a bone marrow transplant. No one in our family is a suitable match and the search is on for a donor in the bone marrow registry. Donated bone marrow needs to be a closer match than other types of transplants. Essentially, the less close the match, the more likely the transplanted cells will attack Jesse's body as a foreign organism. There are drugs that lessen this assault, but they have harsh side effects. Therefore, close matches are highly desirable.

Being a candidate for U.S. Congress, I have asked for money and donations. I would give all that away to find a perfect match for my son. I ask you now, not for money but your humanity. If you haven't had your bone marrow typed, please consider doing it. It is a simple blood test. If you are a match to someone who is need of this vital life giving process, the procedure is virtually painless. In the past, bone marrow was taken from your hip. Today, if you are a match, the technique can be more like a simple blood donation. Your stem cells are filtered off and transplanted into the recipient. That's it, transplant complete. For more information, please see The National Marrow Donor Program or call your local chapter of the American Red Cross.

As a candidate for U.S. Congress, you can probably guess my position on stem cell research. This is one of the miracles that our generation can say we have witnessed. I can't imagine how my son would have survived if twenty years ago, a religious minority had highjacked our government and passed laws that would have forbidden real science from finding these miracles of medicine.  

There is an effort to stymie scientific research in our society. We see it when we look at global warming and we see it when studies on stem cell research are banned because some narrow-minded organizations perceive the research as morally wrong. One only has to study the past to see how rigid religious philosophy has affected scientific progress. I perceive real evil as the stopping the miracles that science will bring to us.

My son came home, and was home for Christmas because of the miracle of stem cell research and the blood donations that sustained him during the times his body could not make its own. Thank you to those who selflessly donate blood, and thank you to those who realize the importance of real science and commit their lives to finding real miracles.

Originally posted to Jeff Latas on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 06:13 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm glad your son is home (4.00)
    Sorry about the circumstances that led to it.  We will keep your family in our thoughts and prayers.

    Please support my research trip to Afghanistan - small donations appreciated. Donate thru Paypal to sjumpe01@baker.edu. All donations are tax deductible.

    by Sharon Jumper on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 06:14:22 AM PST

  •  this is something (4.00)
    People should do anyway if they can because if they aren't helping Jesse they are helping someone else who needs it.

    That said, can you list a few of the qualifications and restrictions on doing this? I would expect like donating blood you need to be healthy, and a b'zillion other things. I am not clear on if I'm allowed to give blood or not bc I spent a lot of time in the UK and ate beef there. I expect marrow has some of the same hoops to jump through?

    I re-did my website! See how pretty DailyGranola.com is now.

    by OrangeClouds115 on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 06:32:23 AM PST

    •  Eligibility (4.00)
      Here is one program's qualifications.  I don't know if this is unique or typical.

      http://www.sandiegobloodbank.org/...

    •  Unfortunately (none)
      due to several conditions I have, I am not eligible.  I do try to donate blood when I can (sometimes, my health doesn't allow it). So my money has to perform my advocacy, because my body (a 1952 model, in my opinion, a lemon year) just can't.

      I feel your frustration about stem cell research.  My niece is diabetic, Type 1.  She is committed to her insulin injections, but the resulting health problems can be just plain awful.  Needed surgery can be a nightmare.  We talked last Thanksgiving about how we were both so frustrated by Bush's position.

      I recently saw a TV program where a patient who desperately needed a bone marrow transplant was not successful in getting better after the transplant because the match wasn't sufficiently close.  He was able to recover by the use of umbilical cord blood.  That's all I know.  I am sure you know much more about this.

      I am glad that, at least, your son is home.  You will be in my thoughts and prayers.  Good luck with your campaign.

      We do not rent rooms to Republicans.

      by Mary Julia on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 10:33:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would give in a minute it they made it easier. (4.00)
    I am type O negative, second rarest blood type, univeral donor (I can give to ANYBODY, positive or negative). Thing is, when I looked into registering for the marrow donor program, they only way you can do it around here is to go into Boston (I live north of there by about 40 minutes). And with the fact that I work 40 minutes north of that, with very little time off, it's nearly impossible.
    Why oh why can't every hospital be set up to screen marrow donors? Even if it was only a few times a year, or once a month? For that matter, why can't the Red Cross set up a system to screen for donors? It could be part of a questionnaire (Would ou be willing to be a marrow donor? Check yes or No. If yes, can we test your blood for inclusion on the national donor registry?)
    Thing is, yes, people could go through a lot of trouble to try and get to someplace to be tested and register, but the only way we can ensure an ample supply of donors is to make it as easy as giving blood.
    Anyway, Anyone needing 0-, happy to provide it.
    •  I got on the list via the Red Cross. (4.00)
      I was also a really regular O-neg donor, and at one point they got me into the pharesis program.  At that point they had to type you too, and they asked if I would be on the bone marrow donor list.  I said absolutely yes.

      I was called once for the second round of testing, but I guess that I wasn't close enough.  

      If my number came up again, I would do it in a heartbeat. Even the hip needle type.  I figured that there is somebody have a WAY worse time than that somewhere--a little pain for a week, pshaw....

      •  I am on the list too. (4.00)
        I was given the option when donating blood to be typed.

        Ask about it, and if you have never donated blood, go out and do so if you can.  It isn't painful and most first time donors (2/3) return to donate again.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 09:05:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  They have made it easier (4.00)
      There is now a by-mail method.  FOllow the donor links on this page , you do a cheek swab and send it in for DNA analysis.  

      Massachusetts: 1st in Baseball, 1st in Football, 47th in Support for Public Higher Education

      by mcinma on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 08:00:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks so much (4.00)
        ...for this link!  I have a young cousin who was diagnosed with leukemia one week before the birth of her first child, and requires a bone marrow transplant.  This information made it so easy for me to register.  
        •  Good Luck to your Cousin (none)
          I lost a sister to Leukemia many moons ago and encourage everyone I can to get registered.

          Massachusetts: 1st in Baseball, 1st in Football, 47th in Support for Public Higher Education

          by mcinma on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 11:59:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Yes! (none)
        Thanks so much for this link!  I've wanted to do this for a long time. I just signed up and will pass this information on to several groups.  I'm O- so I hope that helps.

        Enlisted USMC Vet

        by kgerber on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 01:01:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm glad your son is home. (4.00)
    I would donate if I could, but I cannot even donate blood, since I am almost always anemic.  I've tried many times to donate.

    Good luck, and God bless!

  •  Welcome home, Jesse (4.00)
    and good wishes for your recovery.  I hope a match is found soon.

    Jeff is too gracious to ask for campaign contributions for his District 8 run in this diary, but I will ask for him.  Please contribute.  Jeff announced his candidacy before Jim Kolbe announced plans not to run again.  Since then, everyone and their brother (and sister) has entered the District 8 race.  The local conventional wisdom is that Gabrielle Giffords, a state senator, will get the Democratic nomination.  Some of my progressive Dem friends are supporting her. She is a hawk and a conservative Dem.  We don't need any more conservatives representing this district.  We need Jeff.  Use Jeff's link above to learn more about him and contribute to his campaign.

    If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything-Mark Twain

    by Desert Rose on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 08:34:59 AM PST

    •  You will find much to like (4.00)
      on Mr. Latas' detailed issues page. Please consider supporting this veteran, scientist, and father in his bid for congress.
    •  Gabby IS NOT a progressive, Gabby is a DLC clone, (4.00)
      No stem cell pun intended.

      I have been supporting Jeff Latas since he started his candidacy for this race. Unlike his big money opponent, Jeff has experienced much more of life's experiences then the St Sen. has. Jeff worked his why through school, grew up in a blue collar family, made good in the USAF, and now will do us all good in the House.

      His experience with Jesse's illness only makes him more qualified to be my congressman. The St Sen. is single and even made some comments about how having kids would have been a boat anchor in her ego trip of life. She has lived a privileged life and has inherited just about everything she has wanted and now thinks she can inherit this US Congressional seat.

      I have seen little that she did for me as a St Sen and I will refuse to give her any credit. Jeff Latas put his life on the line for the freedoms we celebrate. Jeff Latas knows my woes of life because he lived them. I will back him and I will keep promoting his name because the media only wants this race to be a celebrity contest. Jeff Latas has the grasp of problems we face and has solutions that will work. Gabby has nothing.

      •  A number of interesting candidates (none)
        I agree with you that Gabby is not a progressive -- and it is hard to find a demonstrated record of anything meaningful during her tenure in the state legislature...

        I hope that Jeff Latas' son gets the match he needs.  No disrepect to Jeff Latas, but I think there are other interesting candidates in the race, and others that have real, serious life experience, who have lived through adversity and are better people because of it.

        I want a race where the people get to pick their representative, not one where only the preordained run.  No wonder people don't turn out to vote, there are so few genuine folks running any more.  

        A genuine, down-to-earth progressive with real world experience is Francine Shacter.  I think she is a worthy alternative to all the candidates!

      •  Gabby is not a progressive (1.00)
        I might as well jump in here and talk about myself, Francine Shacter, since, like Latas and Giffords, I am a candidate for Congress in CD 8. Let the record show I had the courage to file to run against Jim Kolbe, a long-time incumbent. I am and was a progressive Democrat even before the term was coined. I am a working Democrat. Since organizing my precinct for Adlai Stevenson in Maryland in 1956, I have been active in the Democratic party. Before going to work for the Federal Government, where open political activity is not permitted, I was the elected chair of my Maryland precinct. Since coming to Arizona early in 2004, I have worked with the Pima County Democratic party, volunteered many, many hours at headquarters during the Kerry campaign, became a precinct committee person (PC) and am active in the recruitment and training of PCs. I invite all to have a look at my web site, www.francineshacterforcongress.com, and if you feel so moved, contribute either or both: time and money.
        •  Francine, write your own diary (4.00)
          This is pretty low class, Francine.

          Why don't you toot your own horn on a diary about yourself instead on jumping on Jeff's.

          You've done this before, quit riding on Jeff's coat tails and get your own blog!

          •  Good idea (none)
            Agreed.  I wish anyone luck running in AZ-8, but this diary shouldn't be an opportunity for someone who has been here a few weeks (judging by UID) to toot their own horn.  I know this is a political blog, but this is a pretty personal diary - let it be.
          •  She's new here and (none)
            maybe on blogs all together.  I'm sure she meant no harm, but a diary or open thread would be a much better place for her to introduce herself.

            Freedoms on the march - everywhere but here!

            by dkmich on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 06:43:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Not to raise any alarm or (4.00)
    get any hopes up, but I'm in a hospital(Houston VA) right now. I could talk to my docs tommorow and get my blood tested to find out what type I am. Unless it goes by blood-type, in that case I already know I'm B+. I don't know how it works really, or how I would know if I'm a definate match for your son. But since I'm already in the hospital, I'd be willing to give it a shot. And anything to help out a fellow Iraq Vet. We look out for our own.

    Like I said though, I'm not quite sure how or if it could be done. I know the chances that myself and your son are a match are slim, but it's worth a shot right? Just let me know, wither by comment or by email...RetreatHell at hotmail dot com.

    Hopefully I can help.

    •  Hmmm.... (none)
      I went to the link listed above for qualifications for donors. I have a spinal cord injury, and one of the quals said if you have back or spine problems you can't donate. But it didn't say SCI specifically.
      Also tattoo's were listed as a defferment of transplant. I just got a new tattoo a few months ago. So I don't even know if I can donate or not.
    •  You have about a one in 20,000 chance (none)
      Get your bone marrow type regardless. Someone may need your stem cells.

      Jeff Latas for Congress www.jefflatas.com Candidate for US Congress, Arizona District 8

      by Jeff Latas on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 12:47:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Story of My Neighbor (4.00)
    My neighbor, Eric Drew, was featured on NBC Nightline yesteday in a story about how he fought identity theft at the very same time he was in the hospital being treated for leukemia. Eric also was having a hard time finding an appropriate marrow donor, even after a few rounds of chemo. Eventually he went up to Seattle for an experimental procedure. While there, a hospital blood lab worker, who on seeing Eric's blood samples thought he was surely a goner, stole his identity and started running up credit cards. Eric started receiving the bills in his hospital bed and the police wouldn't do anything about it. So Eric got out of his bed, chemo meds in a backpack with the tubes still plugged into his chest, and went out and found the evidence necessary to arrest the guy. The indignation and fury apparently tided him over until a medical procedure eventually worked. Today Eric is in near complete remission, robust and vital again. Time will tell how that works out. The identity thief is in the Washington State penal system.

    Best of luck to your son. Never give up fighting.

    Fox News is a propaganda outlet of the Republican Party - DNC Chair Howard Dean

    by easong on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 09:15:39 AM PST

  •  It is even easier to put yourself on the list (4.00)
    Just a few swabs on the inside of your cheek. I actually did it last year at the Student Union at the Univ of Ariz.

    I still miss that town and the people, especially all the activists. Goodluck in rounding them up Jeff.

    The Only Constant is Change

    by proudprogressiveCA on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 09:45:44 AM PST

  •  Recommended (4.00)
    Getting into the Bone Marrow Bank is a very worth cause. I was once a final candidate to give marrow before the stem cell filtering. To know you are saving someone's life is the most gratifing thing anyone can do. Recommend this so others can have that opportunity.
  •  Cord Blood Registry (4.00)
    I too, was a finalist to give bone marrow about ten years ago. Although the other finalist in this process was selected, I knew that I was part of a human effort that contributes to mankind and was proud to be part of the advancement of science. There are so many diseases that require this transplant and the technology has improved by leaps and bounds.

    There is also another technology I didn't mention in my diary. Cord blood banks are now starting to type the blood of umbilical cords from new born babies. The stem cells in this blood are much more adaptable in the transplant process. If you are going to have a baby or even plan on having one, look into this. The cord blood is frozen and can be banked for the life of your off spring and even longer. If this would have been around when my kids were born, it might have been used versus a donor to replace the diseased marrow my son now has. One such company just opened in Tucson. Here is a link to one of the registries.  
    Cord Blood Registry

    Jeff Latas for Congress www.jefflatas.com Candidate for US Congress, Arizona District 8

    by Jeff Latas on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 11:01:09 AM PST

    •  Yes, cord blood could be a good option (none)
      I hope your son does well and gets into remission. If an unrelated matched donor is not available in a resonable amount of time, a cord blood transplant is a reasonable option.

      I actually do this for a living- I am a hematologist who does BMT, including many cord blood transplants for adults. Many in Heme/Onc do not realize this has become a very viable option in the last few years. If you or you docs need info about this, contact me.

  •  They won't let me donate blood (4.00)
    I don't weigh enough!! What's that about? I am healthy- I'm just little!
    •  Different ball game with bone marrow (4.00)
      I don't think this is exactly like blood donations. If you are a bone marrow match, I think your size will not be a player. If you are familiar with platelet donation, your stem cells are filtered out of your whole blood and returned back to your system. They only need a small amount of stem cells to work.

      Jeff Latas for Congress www.jefflatas.com Candidate for US Congress, Arizona District 8

      by Jeff Latas on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 11:32:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess I gave up (none)
        after i was turned down for blood donations-figured it would work the same way for other stuff- but what do i know? Thanks for info- I will check it out.
      •  Seems such a small sacrifice (none)
        I wish there were good public service messages about this.  Instead we get billboards attacking John Murtha.

        If you are elected, what a great service it would be to bring back really useful public service messages to tv, radio, billboards, etc.  In a well crafted message, we could let the public know how easy it is to be screened and possibly become a bone marrow donor and save someone's life.  It seems such a small sacrifice, and little risk for the ultimate potential benefit - a positive impact seems virtually guaranteed.

        In the meantime I will check on the most current requirements for donating and screening, as I was not eligible the last time I checked.  My best wishes go to you and your family.

        "Let him that would move the world first move himself." --Socrates

        by joanneleon on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 01:38:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  *Tell Jesse to keep his chin up* (4.00)
    The thoughts and prayers of the DKos community are with him. I have been an organ donor since I got my first driver's license, but unfortunately, I am no longer suitable as a donor because of my own fight with Hodgkin's. My heart goes out to Jesse, because I have an intimate understanding of what he's going through right now. But I also know that a strong will and a loving family are powerful weapons in this struggle.
  •  local donor drive (none)
    For folks who don't have a conventient donation site, perhaps you'll find a local drive like I did.  There were a couple local donor drives in my area in the last year, sponsored by local groups in aid of two persons needing transplants (one was a well-liked church pastor, the other a young boy).  
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