"I am writing today with some very sad news. Your recipient recently passed away from Chronic GVHD... The family sends a message of thanks for your generous gift. The staff... would like to express our deepest sympathy on the death of your recipient, and our most heartfelt thanks for your efforts on behalf of this patient. It is natural to grieve, but we would like you to remember that you gave a desperately ill person hope and the chance to live. For that, the recipient's family will be forever grateful and comforted. They can rest assured that their loved one was able to take full advantage of the most advanced medical practice and given every possible opportunity for a cure.
Remember also that the knowledge gained from each and every transplant benefits future recipients. Your contribution will continue to give hope and help to critically ill patients for years to come."
This came as quite a shock to me because last I heard, she was doing well. But they told me from the beginning that because she was older, she would have less of a chance of surviving.
I looked up Chronic GVHD and it seems to occur because my white blood cells don't recognize the recipient's cells and so they attack them. There's more of a chance of this happening when the recipient is of an older age. It's something that happens fairly often, but sometimes it's mild and resolves itself eventually.
I just hope that she was able to enjoy the last year and a half somewhat. I don't know if her family will ever contact me personally.
I didn't know her at all, but I wish I could have done more. Once my little cells were in her body, I kind of felt like there was a part of me living on somewhere else in the world. My blood cells had gone on a little trip to devote their lives to saving someone else's body. I guess it was too much for them to handle, though.
I feel bad that there seems to have been some kind of misunderstanding between my blood cells and her body. Were their orders unclear? Did they wake up in a confusing, foreign land and just try to survive the best they could? I wish it could have worked out better.
I just hope that someday people won't have to suffer through leukemia anymore. Maybe some kind of artificial blood will be developed that understands what it's supposed to be doing. Or maybe a sort of chemical corporal that could have met up with my blood cells, shaken them by their shoulders, and said, "Look, I know you don't feel that you belong here and you're scared. But there's a bigger picture here. Someone's life is depending on you. This is your new home and you can be happy here if you just try."
To the friends and family of my recipient, I'm very sorry for your loss. I'm glad to have been associated with her in some way and I'm still happy that I tried to help.