Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Transformational Change - by Greg Kuhn

In an instant a life situation can change. No one ever thinks that a serious illness will touch themselves or their family. One’s perspective on mortality and life can flip in the blink of an eye. At the age of eight I was sitting in the bathtub after a karate lesson. I noticed that I had blood spurts forming all over my body and the bruises on my legs and arms were growing before my eyes. My family and I immediately went to the hospital and found that my blood counts were plummeting. About a month later I was diagnosed with A-Plastic Anemia, a rare auto-immune blood disorder. My body had lost all of the vital blood cells that help run my body. Without platelets I was unable to clot blood and stop bleeding, without red blood cells there was not enough oxygen reaching all the cells of my body, and without white blood cells I could no longer fight infections. At eight years old I was dying.
I was very fortunate to be admitted into UCSF. There at the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit I was treated by an amazing staff of professionals. They found a donor with a perfect match, my sister. Within a year I had a successful transplant and was allowed to return home.
Our family was very lucky that we lived on the peninsula less than thirty minutes from the hospital. The amount of time that my family spent during the course of my illness at UCSF would have been unsustainable had we lived far away.

I returned to UCSF recently to give thanks and be of help in any way I could, it was then that they directed me towards Family House as a place where I could give my time. For these past few months I have been a volunteer at Family House. I can easily say that I am so very grateful to have the pleasure of meeting all of the wonderful guests and staff that provide such an essential service for the some of the patients at UCSF. During such trials that may befall upon a family, the importance of the resources and integrity that Family House offers and stands by cannot be summed up in words. This experience has helped deepen my understanding of others and in turn myself, and is a testament of the transformational change that is possible in this world.

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