Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Feeling Good: Transplant Saves Woman

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Feeling Good: Transplant Saves Woman

Article excerpt

Sometime this afternoon, Marjorie Rueff will climb into the car with her husband and 10-year-old daughter and leave St. Louis for the 200-mile return trip to Springfield, Mo.

Not long ago, few people would have believed she could make it.

Marjorie had cancer. While there was hope for treating her rare blood disorder, there was no money.

Two hospitals turned her down flat - one because she did not fit the criteria for a cancer study and the second because she couldn't pay $250,000 for a bone marrow transplant.

"It was very difficult," she recalled Wednesday, her head swathed in a turban to disguise the hair loss from radiation treatments. "It was the worst feeling in the world."

This week, she is experiencing one of the best feelings in the world, thanks to a team of surgeons from St. Louis University Hospital who performed a lifesaving operation on her in February. It was the first time that doctors at the hospital had undertaken a bone marrow transplant from a donor not related to the patient.

"She made it happen," said Dr. Steven M. Pincus, who supervised the procedure. "She was determined to beat this disease. If she hadn't been, she would have died a long time ago."

On Jan. 13, 1995 - Friday the 13th - Marjorie learned she had essential thrombocythemia, a rare cancer that affects one in every 1 million people. Her bone marrow was producing too many platelets, the tiny, disk-shaped cells that cause blood to clot.

Her doctors believe she may have had it for 10 years. She probably di dn't have much time left, doctors said.

"We went through this kind of shock period - I don't know, maybe two days," said her husband, John, who works at Springfield's wastewater treatment plant. "Then we both decided we were going to find out as much ab out this as possible."

"I didn't want anything to stop us," added Marjorie, who worked as a bookkeeper before she became sick. …

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