Andrea Pecor's Personal Profile
Diagnosis. In August of 1980, I was 24 years old, had just graduated from college and was working for the summer in upstate New York. I had been feeling tired and was becoming winded while making my daily climb to campus during the last semester of school but during the summer, my symptoms worsened. I thought I was working too hard and not eating right, but a good friend told me she was worried and wanted me to see a doctor. When a normal series of blood labs revealed a low platelet count and a bone marrow biopsy showed severely hypoplastic bone marrow, I was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia.
The doctor in Ithaca, NY who diagnosed me told me he was unable to oversee my care or treatment as did the doctor he referred me to. This second doctor knew a hematologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City who was elderly and not accepting new patients, but a personal letter from Dr.#2 (no longer recall his name) served as my entrée to Dr. Louis Wasserman and his team. Heartbroken, I abandoned a life that had just begun and moved home to live with my parents in their home about 35 miles north of New York City.
Dr. Wasserman and his colleague, Dr. Donovan, sat us down as a family to discuss our options. The only cure for aplastic anemia was a bone marrow transplant. Because I am an only child, this was not an option. The National Marrow Donor Program did not yet exist in 1980 and transplants were being done only from matched sibling donors. The doctors felt I should consider participating in a clinical trial of AntiThymocyte Globulin (ATG). There were trials being conducted at about 6 hospital centers around the US, but the only trial that was not "randomized" was being offered at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, WA. This meant that all trial participants would receive the drug. My mother and I left for Seattle on Sept 24. My father stayed in New York to operate his fledgling business and mind the home front.