Karla Torralba, the single mother of a four year old little boy, Christopher was diagnosed with Leukemia 13 months ago and has been on a roller coaster ride of hospitals and chemotherapy ever since. Leukemia is a cancer of the body's blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and lymph system. Leukemia causes the bone marrow to produce a large number of abnormal, dysfunctional white blood cells. Normal white blood cells are potent infection fighters but in people with leukemia, the abnormal white blood cells accumulate and block production of normal white blood cells impairing the ability to fight infection.
Treatment for Leukemia is complex and a lot of patients are not strong enough to endure the repeated poisoning of the body essentially dying from the chemotherapy. The cancerous cells can also spread to other vital organs during this time. Karla had to survive a year of difficult and painful chemotherapy in order to just stabilize the production of the abnormal cells before she could even be considered for a bone marrow transplant. It was a big relief when Karla was deemed stable enough to undergo a bone marrow transplant, the only way to save her life. Finding a matching donor can be quite difficult sometimes and there is no guarantee that family members will match but luckily, Karla's older sister, Erika was a perfect match and the bone marrow transplant is scheduled for July 2nd.
Unfortunately, a bone marrow transplant is only the beginning of a very long and painful journey back to good health. Bone marrow transplantation requires that the recipient's own bone marrow be completely destroyed. Prior to the transplant patients may go for several weeks without appreciable numbers of white blood cells to help fight infection. This puts a patient at high risk of infections, sepsis and septic shock both before and after the procedure and there is a very high rate of death after the bone marrow transplant from infection.
Karla will virtually be an infant for the first month after the transplant, unable to get up out of bed and unable to feed herself. She will require 24 hour care for the first three months after the procedure and will likely need to be taken to the hospital several times during recovery to try to stop infections that set in. She will also be unable to go back to work for five years following the transplant.
Karla's current living situation when she isn't in the hospital is living with her mother, her 18 year old sister and her four year old son in a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment in Oakland, Californa. However, after the bone marrow transplant, due to the extremely high risk of infection, Karla will be required to live in a sterile environment near the UCSF Medical Center where she is being treated with a bathroom designated only for her and that cannot be shared. A short-term, two bathroom apartment in San Francisco is very expensive and will cost much, much more than the Torralba Family can afford.
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