George’s second bone marrow transplant consultation appointment was with Dr. Loren at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. We didn’t really learn any new information. There are some differences in the way UPenn and Jefferson approach the transplant process. One notable difference is that Jefferson will use half matches, while UPenn strives for full matches. I’m not sure how a half match would work – that’s way above my pay grade, but we believe, as Dr. Loren expressed, that a full match is the best path forward. And by full match, I mean the team takes blood and looks at 8 different proteins (HLA) in George’s blood and looks for a donor that also has all 8, but at least 5. That is to best prevent Graft versus Host Disease (GvHD), which is basically when the new bone marrow or peripheral blood cells from the donor view the body as foreign and the donated marrow/cells attack the body.
George’s sister would be a possible candidate for a full match, but even being a full sibling, her chances of being one is 25%. So, after she gets tested, our best bet is to go through the bethematch.org registry. George’s son Michael would be a half match. Not sure if they would use him or not.
We were impressed with Dr. Loren, who started the ball rolling while we were in her office, setting up appointments for a bone marrow biopsy, a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) and took blood to test for the previously mentioned proteins. George turned to me and said “I like it here.” And so, we chose UPenn for the transplant.
Dr. Loren told us George would most likely need another round of consolidation chemotherapy before the transplant begins, so he would need time to have that done and time to recover. We scheduled an appointment for May 4 to meet again. By then all the tests should be completed and we should have our clearance visit.
But can we talk about UPenn’s new hospital facility, The Pavilion?
The Pavilion opened this past November and houses the hospital’s oncology, cardiovascular and and neuroscience units. It is 1.5 million square feet and spans the length of two football fields! The hospital calls the Pavilion “future ready” and will prioritize education and research alongside clinical care to speed developments in science and medicine. The future ready facility is also able to integrate new technologies to provide the latest treatments.
In the facility, builders incorporated new devices into patient rooms, each equipped with a tablet linked to an interactive screen at the foot of the bed. The equipment allows users to see medical records and communicate with family. Patients can also open or close the motorized shades and change the glass along the hallway from clear to opaque.
Anyway….an amazing new facility. It’s s shame we have to get to know this facility up close and personally, but if you have to be somewhere for 4 or 5 weeks, this place will certainly do.
Our first step on our first day home from the visit is to pass on the phone number for the HLA typing coordinator to George’s sister and son so they can get their testing kits and see if they are a match. Tomorrow, George has an appointment with his oncologist, Dr. Ghimire. I anticipate we will get more information regarding the next round of consolidation chemo and Dr. Loren should have coordinated with him regarding which drugs to use this time. She suggested a lower dose, outpatient chemo regiment which would be great. We shall see!