“Does your son work around chemicals?”
The doctor’s question rang through Wanda’s mind as she recounted the life of Nick, her 21-year-old son. “No, he doesn’t work around chemicals. He’s a healthy young man who has played hockey his whole life, including on the competitive St. Paul’s High School team. He has never been to a hospital or needed to see a doctor for anything aside from a croup cough when he was two.”
In the spring, everything changed. Nick had been feeling tired, but assumed it was the stress of university exams. When symmetrical bruises on his limbs appeared, Nick knew it was time to go for a blood test. The test revealed that his platelets and white blood cells were so low that they were almost non-existent.
Upon hearing the results, Nick and his family rushed to the Health Sciences Centre Emergency Department for a bone marrow biopsy where an ER doctor immediately noticed his symptoms and ushered him into the isolation area, knowing Nick shouldn’t be around other people with his compromised immunity.
The biopsy results confirmed Nick’s diagnosis: idiopathic aplastic anemia, a serious, rare condition where bone marrow stops generating new blood cells.
“Nick could have died if we waited one more day. A fall, accident, or a common sickness would have killed him,” Wanda says.
Thankfully, Nick received the gift of a lifetime— a bone marrow transplant from his 24-year-old sister, Tasha.
“Tasha didn’t even have to be asked to donate—she just did,” says Wanda.
Tasha bounced right back, working as lead counsellor at a summer camp just weeks after donating 1.2 litres of bone marrow. And, although Nick has to make significant lifestyle adjustments, he is on the mend. His platelets and white blood cells are nearing the normal range and he hopes to return to university and his part-time job this January.
“Everyone at HSC made sure I understood my circumstances while also encouraging me to be hopeful. I learned that the 17-room wing on GD-6 is the only one of its kind in Manitoba and I couldn’t have been luckier to be there. From the around-the-clock-care to every nurse, doctor, and physician’s assistant I met, I had no doubt that I was getting the best care possible. Everyone’s efforts gave me the best chance at overcoming this obstacle and making a full recovery,” says Nick.
Today, on Giving Tuesday, consider how you can help HSC deliver the best care possible to patients like Nick. HSC is Manitoba’s hospital. It’s your hospital. Please give generously.
By Natasha Havrilenko