A Lubbock man with aplastic anemia and his Odessa brother who donated his bone marrow in an attempt to save him are doing better about three weeks after the procedure.
Richard Fischer, a local attorney with the Jeff Diamond Law Firm, found out last summer that his brother had a rare blood disease in which bone marrow stops making enough red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets for the body.
So after learning in October he was a match, Richard wasted no time in offering to go through with the bone marrow transplant for his brother Jason.
Richard said he was feeling well again just a few days after being stuck with large-gauge needles to filter out his blood to retrieve stem cells from it, and he is encouraged by how well Jason is doing.
“He’s doing really well. Ever since the procedure his spirits seem to be really good,” Richard said. “I think he’s responded to the chemotherapy (and) all the adverse things he’s gone through over the past few weeks; he’s responded very well.”
Jason said the worst part of the transplant was the pre-transplant procedures, in which he had to go through rounds of chemotherapy.
As of Friday, Jason’s blood count numbers spiked and he said he could be home as early as Monday or Tuesday.
Since the transplant, he said he’s feeling more energy on most days and is confident the transplant worked.
“I feel pretty positive that it’s going to take just by how well everything has gone. It’s very rare that it doesn’t take,” he said. “A lot of people, at this stage, they’re usually still on the IV antibiotics and a lot of people are on feeding tubes. But I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve been off the IV antibiotics for a couple weeks ago and I’ve never had a feeding tube.”
Jason, who is the community engagement manager at the Volunteer Center of Lubbock, said he receives cards from the United Way and an outpouring from people he knows and even those he doesn’t know wishing him the best in his recovery.
He said he hopes to be home by March 1 and possibly even working again by the beginning of April, but he also knows it might not happen like he wants.
“I hope for the best but at the same time I’m not going to let it get me too down if something goes wrong,” Jason said. “(You) Can’t plan for everything so you just have to take everything in stride.”
Sharon Bass, the director at the Volunteer Center of Lubbock, said Jason was always active and calm in trying to find the best way to handle the illness.
“He’s really been an inspiration to me of how he’s dealt with a very, very serious and challenging situation,” she said. “I’m a mom, and I’m not his mom, but I worry over him sometimes like a momma. But I thought, I don’t need to be sending him worry. I need to be sending him good thoughts and prayers, which is what I’ve done.”
Only about 600 to 900 people are diagnosed with the disease each year in the United States, according to the Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation.
Jason has been receiving blood transfusions since August, has had immunosuppressive therapy and now the transplant.
Although his blood cell counts have risen significantly, he said, doctors are still waiting to see a sustained improvement over several days before declaring the transplant a success.
“There are some days better than others. Sometimes I’ll get a slight chill or just be more exhausted than others, but overall I feel pretty well,” he said. “If it doesn’t (work), then we’ll go back and do another transplant with my brother or with the registry.”