Harvesting Cells

This is my second day in the chair—blue recliner, actually—at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Infusion Center.

PSL Infusion Center
PSL Infusion Center


The COBE Spectra next to me is running my blood through a centrifuge to separate its various components and skim off the peripheral stem cells—2,300,000 during my 5-hour stint yesterday. Another day like that and I can go home tonight as the goal is around 5 million cells.


Cobra machine
Cobra machine


By the time I’m done, my entire blood supply—exactly five liters in my case—will have been out of my body and through the machine a dozen times. My collected stem cells will be frozen until I come back on June 7 to prep for my transplant.

It will take about 10 hours to collect the cells but only about 15 minutes to put them back into my bone marrow. I thought they would have to be screened once more for cancer but that isn’t the case. I’m a “GO” for the whole enchilada.

5 thoughts on “Harvesting Cells

  1. Cell skimmin’! In the big blue chair. Wow!

    I have both hope and faith that this will work and work well for you. But aren’t you glad they can’t charge you for your own cells. With asprin running a few bucks a pop at most hospitals, can you imagine what they’d charge your for five million living cells! Looking forward to seeing you next week.

  2. Hi Mike-

    I’m Jen. Pleased to meet you. I have been reading your blog all evening, and just wanted to touch base. We’re having very, very similar journeys here: I was diagnosed with DBCNHL Feb 2008, did my R-CHOP, did my radiation, relapsed Feb 2009, did my R-ICE, and am going in Saturday for mobilization (although I’m just getting megadoses of Neupogen, not the cytox and etoposide that you got. Neh-neh.), with harvest starting Tuesday. I’m on a slightly different protocol than you, with no rest after harvest, so I get BEAC the week of the 8th, and will be re-infused on the 15th if all goes as planned.

    I’ve been reading cancer blogs on and off over the past year, but somehow never found yours until this evening. Kismet? I’m hoping that this goes well for both of us, and wanted to know that you’ve got a very sympthetic (in the proper sense of the word) reader.

    Hang in there-


  3. wow, that is a long time to spend in a blue recliner! you are in our prayers constantly. please let us know if there’s anything else we can do.

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