14 February 2009

How my wife's father died

The last time my wife saw her father, she was nine years old. He left  to the hospital to have some general blood tests done. His doc had told him he had symptoms of a blood disorder: pale skin, frequent nose bleeds and bleeding gums, frequent infections, weight loss, fever, poor appetite and extreme fatigue.

To rule out leukemia, a full blood count was used to determine how many cell types were in circulation. A differential blood count determined the proportion of blood cells by type and a hematocrit assay determined how many red blood cells were in the blood. 

Finally, a bone marrow sample confirmed leukemia, but my wife's father never knew. Due to low red blood cell count he was given a blood transfusion. The transfusion failed and he had died immediately after. My wife never had a chance to say goodbye.

Leukemia is a cancer of related cancers stemming from production of abnormal white blood cells and their proliferation throughout the body. Its cause is unknown and its prevention is unknown to be possible. However, those who smoke, who are exposed to benzene, or who have been through chemotherapy and radiation therapy for other cancers appear to be at higher risk.


No comments: