We never thought he'd need the rest of them. Either the transplant would fail and he'd die, or it would work and he'd live. No second chances.
And yet there they were Thursday, wheeled in to Unit 1 in a cryogenic carrier. And just like last year, there was Dom, dancing away in his crib along with the very same two nurses (and even a doctor who we'd never seen dance).
This was different from the transplant in many ways. No chemotherapy beforehand to wipe out his old cells and provide a clean sheet where the new ones could take over — as of a month ago, his blood cells are 100 per cent donor. The point here is to boost what he's got.
The cells themselves were no longer fresh, so a water bath was needed to unfreeze them. More notable, the chemicals used to keep them preserved smell like... well, nothing you can adequately describe without retching.
And once the infusion was done, that was it. No mandatory 100 days in hospital, no regimen of drugs to ensure the cells stick, not near the danger if they don't.
He didn't react as well to these stem cells, throwing up a couple times before he settled down. Then, after a long nap, he was up caroming down the hallways, pushing the toy car that last year we pushed him around in.
Later that night, as Trish was preparing to go out to a children's cancer fundraiser called Touch of Gold, she was told the unit was full. In the past this would've had no impact on Dominic. Instead, he was the first to be kicked out.
Somehow, Trish and her mom unloaded the room and she got to the fundraiser only a half hour late.
A year later, it's so different. But the hope for this second chance is the same.