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Nathan's story; Counting down

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On January 16th, Nathan Piekutowski checked into Loyola to begin pre-treatment for his cord transplant that has been matched. Since his admission, Nate has experienced three days of chemo treatments and begins total body radiation which will continue for 4 days. His transplant is scheduled for next week.

Nathan has been struggling with the side affects of chemo and radiation but following the specific guidelines of Loyola s strict transplant team to be ready. Nathan is determined, focused on his responsibilities to get well, though really feeling the fatigue effects of pre-treatment measures.

Donated umbilical cord blood contains stem cells that can save the lives of patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers.

The cell-expansion technology potentially could boost the number of patients who could benefit from life-saving transplants of stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood, said Patrick Stiff, MD, lead author of the study. Stiff, director of Loyola’s Cardinal Bernardine Cancer Center, presented findings at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

Stem cell transplants can save lives of patients who have no other options. Patients receive high-dose chemotherapy, and in some cases, high-dose radiation as well. The treatment, unfortunately, kills healthy blood cells along with the cancerous cells. To rebuild the stores of healthy cells, the patient subsequently receives a transplant infusion of immature stem cells. Over time, these stem cells develop into new blood cells.

Loyola has treated more blood cancer patients with stem cell transplants than any other center in Illinois and has one of the largest unrelated donor transplant programs in the world. Loyola physicians have performed more than 2,700 stem cell transplants, including about 150 cord blood transplants.

As stated in previous articles, Nathan Piekutowski has not been focused on living the dream; the dreams of most twenty year old young men who are working their way through college in order to attain the dream job, finding the love of their life and even raising a family. Most would never have thought about spending time on the oncology floor instead of a college dorm like Nate because everything stops, unfortunately, for cancer.

But, Nate, and to all of you that are spending their young years feverishly suffering from illness, there is always a reason because you appreciate so much more than the constant complainers that just have a bad cold while making us think twice.

That is what you do for the world, not just a community of followers. You make us stand the test of time, forgot about our nonsense and remember to be grateful; nurturing our moments and the ones that we love.

And at such a young age, a great power than most will never attain.

And in return for the gifts that you are giving us, we pray for your reward that you so richly deserve.

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