Summarized by Kent Larsen
Sister's cells offer fighting chance
Waterbury CT Republican-American 22Aug99 L5
By Chris Thomas
NAUGATUCK, CONNECTICUT - LDS Church member Robert Harder had Natural
Killer Cell Leukemia, which ravaged his body for six months before
doctors discovered and diagnosed it last March. This rare form of
cancer attacks the "natural killer" blood cells that are part of the
immune system, preventing those cells from maturing properly. Just
seven people have died from this form of cancer.
But in spite of the danger of the disease, Harder may not join them.
Today he is cancer free, five months after stem blood cells from his
sister were injected into his body to help him grow new bone marrow
and build a new immune system. Without these transplanted cells,
Harder would have certainly died from the cancer, says Dr. Stuart
Seropian of the Yale Cancer Center's Blood and Marrow Transplant
Program, where the operation was performed. "He was faced with a
nearly universally fatal disorder, and we did not know even if the
transplant would save him. All we did know was that transplants had
saved about half of patients with similar leukemias. The good news
for now is that his leukemia is in full remission."
His recovery is continuing. Harder, who is married and has four
children, including an 18-month-old daughter, walks with a limp from
a blood clot in his leg. He is still too weak to walk up the stairs.
He also can't go to crowded public places, like movie theaters or
restaurants, because of the risk that he will get an infection.
This article gives an inspiring history of Robert's battle with the
cancer and his family's struggle to cope with the diagnosis. During
his struggle, Robert's family was supported by the local Church, who
brough the family meals and helped care for the children.