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of the month
By Rich Petersen
José Guadalupe Macías Yáñez
Meet 6-1/2 year old José Guadalupe Macías Yáñez. Jose Guadalupe lives in San Juan Cosalá and is the youngest of four children. His mother Silvia is a housewife and his father Marco Antonio works in construction.
José Guadalupe was born with myelodysplastic syndrome, known as MDS, a type of stem cell disorder that affects the ability of a person’s bone marrow to produce normal red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. He was not diagnosed until the age of four after extensive tests. This is the syndrome that can lead to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in adults, and this is what José Guadalupe was facing.
For several years José Guadalupe had to undergo blood transfusions to help fortify his blood and also several daily medications, weekly visits to the Hospital Civil for blood tests and at times hospitalization. He would rally for a time but then become weak and face another round of transfusions.
Finally in March of this year the doctors in the Hematology and Pediatric Oncology Department of the Hospital Civil agreed that what was needed was a bone marrow transplant. A bone marrow transplant is when special cells (called stem cells) that are normally found in the bone marrow are taken out, filtered, and given back either to the same person or to another person. The purpose of a bone marrow transplant is to put healthy stem cells in place of the unhealthy ones. This can treat or even cure the disease.
As with any type of transplant, a “donor” must be found whose stem cells are healthy and of the same or similar type as the patient’s so as to avoid rejection by the body. After some extensive testing José Guadalupe’s older sister, Jessica, was found to be a perfect candidate as the donor.
The transplant took place this past July and little José Guadalupe had quite a rough recovery as his body struggled to “accept” the transplanted bone marrow. There were several times when he was seriously ill and there was genuine concern for his survival. Thankfully his body finally made the shift and his blood levels and other tests gradually returned to normal.
You can see in the photo that this six-year-old looks quite a bit older and his face is a bit “swollen.” This is due to the high dose of an anti-inflammatory drug (Prednisone) that he needs to take to help with recovery.
José Guadalupe has not been actually living at home since his surgery because following a bone marrow transplant the patient must be kept in relative isolation and away from other people; visitors have to wear hospital gowns and face masks, the patient has to drink and eat only with utensils kept in the room, washed and sterilized at all times. His mother has for all intents and purposes been living at the Hospital Civil, traveling back home several times a week to help with the rest of her family.
When he does return home (which will have happened by the time you read this), the family must have added on to their home a new “sterile” room and bathroom which the boy will use exclusively.
If you would like to find out more about our group and the work we do, please attend our regular members’ meetings on the second Thursday of each month (next date Oct. 14), at 10:30 a.m. at the Hotel Real de Chapala in La Floresta. You will also have the opportunity to meet one of the children we are helping. Thanks to everyone for your continued support.