Andrea Pecor's Personal Profile
ATG#1. The ATG trial protocol specified a 10-day course of ATG infusions (10 hours per day) followed by a mismatched transplant/infusion of my mother's marrow (this was not done because of her history of breast cancer and the risk of transplanting occult cancer cells) and up to 12 months of Oxymethalone (male hormone). I received 9.5 days of the ATG; I could not finish the last infusion because of increasingly severe allergic reactions. My counts dipped to ridiculously low levels during the protocol: platelets went to 800 (8 hundred) and white cells could not be counted. I received minimal transfusions of packed red cells (though one of them managed to infect me with hepatitis C) and became refractory to blood bank platelets. They began to collect platelets from my mother daily. Her platelets are HLA-matched and gave me a "super" spike. Through the entire 10-day protocol, I rode an hourly roller coaster of extreme chills and fevers. I had migraines, was covered with petechiae, and gained 25 pounds from the steroids. Nonetheless, I was discharged on Oct 15 and my mother and I returned to NY, where Drs. Wasserman and Donovan would provide follow-up care. Though I had started the Oxymethalone, it was stopped when the hepatitis C was diagnosed (approximately Dec 1980). Within 6 months, my counts had reached the low end of normal. It appeared I had been "cured".
Trips to the doctor became less frequent, from every 6 months to once a year. My husband Dave and I were married in June 1984 and at my annual Christmastime visit to Mount Sinai that year, there were "Congratulations!" all around. The news was that my counts were "the same" and I should come back in a year. (Absurd as it may sound today, Dr. Wasserman's policy was to never tell a patient what his/her actual counts were, only that they were "up", "down" or "the same".)
It took a while, but I finally became pregnant in the fall of 1985. The gynecologist's blood workup showed I was anemic, but I told him not to worry since I would be seeing my hematologist in December. When I did, my counts were "down", according to Dr. Wasserman. We shouldn't worry, he said, the worst-case scenario would be that I would need a caesarian section. I didn't know it at the time, but he called my gynecologist and told him to treat me as he would any other patient. We saw Dr. Wasserman every two weeks and always the counts were "down". Still, we started making plans and heard the baby's heartbeat. Life was good and we were excited, in spite of the relapse of my aplastic anemia.
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