Bone marrow transplant needed as platelets are no longer being produced
By Shavonne Potts
Every 10 days, Carl Doby goes to a hospital where he receives platelet transfusions. The procedure takes about an hour, but it is necessary.
Nearly five years ago, Doby was diagnosed with leukemia. He went through aggressive chemotherapy treatments. He was recently told he had myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS.
The bone marrow disease affects his ability to produce platelets. The disease mostly affects older adults. But his was a direct result of the chemotherapy.
Doby has secondary MDS, which essentially is a type of “pre-leukemia,” he said.
An estimated 15,000 people are diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome.
“The scary part is his body is not producing platelets,” Deona, his wife said.
Since the body needs a new supply of platelets about every 10 days, he has to have regular transfusions. This will only last so long.
The cure is bone marrow.
The American Red Cross has joined with his family and volunteers to organize a series of donation drives, where Carl hopes to find a match.
“It’s a really important and simple way to make such a big difference,” Deona said.
The family is hopeful he’ll find a donor and that others on the national donor registry may find matches from any one of the six drives.
During a bone marrow biopsy in April 2008, doctors discovered Carl had MDS. He had a low platelet count, going from 270,000 platelets to 7,000 platelets.
“We were lucky to find out as soon as we have,” he said.
Carl had to quit his job. His wife continues as a kindergarten teacher at Faith Elementary School.
His days are filled with going to see doctors and spending time with his family.
Once he finds a donor, he’ll have a bone marrow transplant.
There is no true loss to the donor because in about six weeks the body regenerates new marrow.
A bone marrow match means about a month in the hospital. Carl would be released only when doctors are certain he has a strong immune system. After that, there is constant monitoring to make certain his immune system remains strong.
The only changes would be in DNA. His DNA and blood type would be that of his donor. For example, if his donor were a female, his DNA would contain a male and female chromosome.
It’s a small price to pay for a future with his wife and three children ó Grant, 10, Harrison, 7, and Ella, 4.
Ideally, his doctors would like to find a match from a male who is slightly younger than Carl, 36.
Carl and his wife say they would accept a donor who is a match regardless of gender or age.
Carl is a big advocate of the Be The Match Registry, which is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program.
The registry is connected to 35 countries and a match could be anywhere.
He said there is a great need for minorities to register. Carl has Native American ancestors.
“My goal is to get other folks on the registry,” he said. “There are drives all over the country and right now it is urgent.”
He is excited about the drives because they are going to help so many, not just him, he said.
His leukemia is essentially in remission. But, worst case, if he does not find a marrow match, he could develop leukemia again.
This December would have been his five-year mark.
After five years, doctors consider you cured, Deona said.
Carl said he feels, “like a normal person.” His immune system is fine. He feels quite healthy.
They are very thankful for all that has been done for them already ó from the staff at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, where Carl has platelet transfusions, to their neighbors who’ve pitched in to help and to the many prayers, even from strangers.
One day, Ella accidentally dialed a telephone number. Carl politely told them it was a mistake. A few minutes later, he accidentally redialed the number. It just so happened the man on the other end was a minister, who stopped to pray with Carl.
The family relies on their Christian faith to see them through the difficult times.
“We pray a lot. We do what we have to do. It’s not easy,” Deona said.
Both of them have some sleepless nights. But life goes on.
Harrison recently had his tonsils removed. Each day, Deona returns to work. Bills are due and the children have activities.
Their neighbors are a big help. One day the couple came home to find someone had mowed their lawn. Carl had breakfast at Wink’s Barbecue and someone paid for his meal.
Oldest son Grant said he believes things happen for a reason.
“I think we’ve gotten stronger through this,” he said emphatically.
Grant said the ordeal has tested their faith.
When Carl is better, the family hopes to find a way to pay it forward.
A high school friend created a Facebook page, Praying for Carl Doby, where there are already hundreds of members. To follow Carl’s progress, visit caringbridge. org. Type in carldoby in the visit Web site box.