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.