The toxic drug that almost took Stephanie's life was successful in destroying the remaining pocket of bone marrow in her body. Her bones were now sterile of bone marrow and leukemia. But the only red blood cells she had were those presently in her bloodstream, and they were wearing out fast. Her immune system was gone as well. Those who entered her room could only do so after washing their hands and putting on gloves, a hospital gown, and a facemask. All Stephanie could see were the eyes of those who attended her.
Stephanie's favorite nurse, an older, outspoken lady, was at her side. "Smile! This is the day you're going to get well. This is a really special day. All the nurses are praying for you."
Dr. Ward explained the procedure that was about to take place. "In a moment we will put two pints of Libby's bone marrow into your IV. Since she is a perfect match, we expect her marrow to find a good home inside your bones."
"Two pints? Will she have any left?"
"She will have plenty left."
"Please don't take two pints from Libby."
"Libby is old enough and large enough to give two pints. That second pint is extra insurance to make your bone-marrow transplant a success."
"Two pints is so much. Please, just one."
"I'll think about it," Dr. Ward said calmly.
"Please, just one pint." Stephanie insisted as she stared at the ceiling above her.
"Honey, let the doctor do his job," the old nurse said. "The Bible says that 'the life is in the blood.' We want you to have plenty of life."
Libby was taken on a gurney to the operating room with her parents at her side. "This may sting a little," a nurse said as she inserted an IV needle into a vein on the back of Libby's left hand.
Mrs. Anderson prayed aloud for her daughter.
"Don't forget Stephanie!" Libby reminded her.
Dr. Ward whispered to Libby as the anesthesia flowed into her IV line. "I told Stephanie that we were going to give her two pints of bone marrow. She told me she only needed one. Can you believe that? Stephanie trying to tell her doctor what to do?"
"Give her two," Libby uttered as her eyes closed in a deep sleep.
Libby's procedure was an out-patient surgery. In the operating room, the surgeon drove a needle through Libby's skin and muscle until it stopped at the rear hip bone. He added more pressure to drive the needle through the bone's hard outer layers and into the large cavity in the interior. Libby's thick red marrow was extracted into a syringe. Several skin punctures were made on each hip until the surgeon had drawn enough marrow.
Stephanie watched as the nurse hung the pint-sized bag of bone marrow. It hung bright red, a color that proceeded down the IV line to the shunt in Stephanie's body. For weeks that shunt had accepted toxic chemicals. Now it was delivering life. It was a gift of life that Stephanie attributed to the love of her fourth cousin. When the flow stopped, the nurse detached the IV line from the bag.
"There's more in it!" Stephanie protested. "That's my life. Please squeeze out every drop! I don't have any bone marrow of my own!"
"Honey," the nurse said through her mask, "there's plenty more."
She hung another blood-red bag of bone marrow. The bag bulged so that Stephanie knew it had more than a pint. It seemed like too much bone marrow to come from a young girl.
"Is Libby OK?"
"She'll be OK," the nurse assured Stephanie. "She'll feel like she had a bad fall when she wakes up, but she'll get over it in about four days. Her bone marrow will regenerate in about four weeks."
Stephanie watched the crimson flow proceed down the IV line until slumber overtook her.
When Stephanie woke up, she saw the eyes of Brother and Mrs. Anderson, their faces covered by masks. Beside them was Libby with her mask and sterile gloves.
"How do you feel?" Libby asked.
"Weak," Stephanie answered. "How do you feel?"
"Sore, but I'm good."
"Does it feel like a bad fall?"
"If you must know, it feels like I fell off the roof and hit my bottom on concrete."
"Thanks, Libby." Stephanie squeezed Libby's hand as best she could. "Thanks for giving me my life."
"I know that you would do the same for me."
"I love you, Libby." Stephanie's eyes closed again in sleep.
Taken from "A Scent of Jasmine" by David Dockery (OakTara, www.oaktara.com). The entire novel is available from amazon.com, christianbook.com or barnesandnoble.com. Used by permission of the author and publisher. David Dockery is a Mississippi geologist and member of Pocahontas Baptist Church near Jackson. To read the first chapter of Baptist Press' serialization of "A Scent of Jasmine" by David Dockery, go to http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=34444. For subsequent chapters, go to BP's "Search Stories" tab and search by date.
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