Julie Ali Good luck Jonathan. I believe the stem cell transplant will work and you will get better.
Some good news: A day after biopsy, Jonathan Pitre's white blood cell count jumps
Published on: October 7, 2016 | Last Updated: October 7, 2016 4:22 PM EDT
Jonathan Pitre with his mom, Tina.
Just in time for the weekend, Jonathan Pitre has some medical news for which to give thanks.
Pitre’s blood tests Friday revealed that his critical white blood cell count increased for the first time in 12 days, climbing to 0.3 parts per unit of blood from 0.1. The normal range is 4.0 to 11.0.
The measurement is a key indicator of the state of Pitre’s stem cell transplant: whether or not the donor cells have started to establish themselves in his bone marrow.
“He’s super excited,” said Pitre’s mother, Tina Boileau.
Pitre had a bone marrow biopsy Thursday, a surgical procedure to withdraw red marrow from the back of his hip.
The biopsy should be able to tell doctors — and Pitre — more about what’s going on inside his bone marrow, where most of the body’s blood cells are produced.
Preliminary lab results show that Pitre’s bone marrow is recovering, but a big question remains unanswered: Is it recovering because of the growth of new donor stem cells, or because Pitre’s own cells are recolonizing the bone marrow?
“If he’s producing my cells, we’re heading in the right direction,” Boileau said. “If he is recovering his own cells, the engraftment failed.”
Boileau expects to find out those answers sometime this weekend. If the engraftment has failed, they’ll discuss with doctors a second stem cell transplant.
It has been more than a month since Pitre was infused with stem cells drawn from his mother’s hip, but it has been a difficult, anxious wait for those cells to engraft. Engraftment is the process by which stem cells move through the bloodstream to the bone marrow and begin to produce new blood cells.
White blood cells are the first to appear in the bloodstream after a bone marrow transplant.
A mothers diary 2:20
In a conversation with doctors Thursday, Boileau predicted her son’s white blood cell count would finally go up after the biopsy, and sure enough, his blood tests revealed the first sign of progress in two weeks on Friday.
If Pitre’s white blood cell count rises to 0.5 — and if he can maintain that level for three consecutive days — his medical quarantine will be relaxed, and he’ll be allowed into the hospital hallways with a mask. The quarantine is necessary because his body’s immune system was suppressed to prevent it from attacking the donated cells, and it has yet to rebuild itself with new white blood cells.
Pitre has been confined to his room since his Sept. 8th transplant, and has battled fevers, nausea and exhaustion for the past month.
Early in his hospital stay, Pitre was enjoying popsicles, chips and oranges, but in recent weeks he’s been unable to eat anything. He’s being fed intravenously.
Boileau said they’ll celebrate Thanksgiving quietly.Pitre, 16, suffers from a severe form of Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a blistering skin disease that is among the most painful known to medicine. He travelled to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital in August for a stem cell transplant, the only available treatment that holds the potential to dramatically improve his physical condition and make his disease more manageable.