Monday, February 16, 2009

Transplant oddity

I've discussed this before, but I'll reiterate: In a limited way, bone marrow transplant patients acquire traits of their donors. The patient's old allergies may go away. The patient may gain the donor's allergies. Blood types may change. Gender may change at the chromosome level (but not otherwise).

My donor graft was a very close match of alleles. This means he and I follow a very similar line of hereditary variation. You could consider us Doppelgangers or twins at some biological level.

But there are differences because we're not clones. (Arguably, even clones vary.)

Last night, Ed and I believe we confirmed my first "derivative distinction" from the transplant. It's nothing worrysome. It's nothing that will be difficult to live with. In fact, it's a particularly funny one, considering.

We believe that my donor does not produce Aldehyde Dehydrogenase (ALDH2). Here's a section from Wikipedia on the topic.

ALDH2 plays a crucial role in maintaining low blood levels of acetaldehyde during alcohol oxidation. In this pathway, the intermediate structures can be toxic, and health problems arise when those intermediates cannot be cleared (Crabb 2004). When high levels of acetaldehyde occur in the blood, symptoms of facial flushing, light headedness, palpitations, nausea, and general “hangover” symptoms occur . These symptoms are indicative of a disease known as “Asian Flush” or “Oriental Flushing Syndrome” (Thomasson 1991).

That's right folks, I can't drink alcohol any more. I've tried enough times since the transplant to be VERY certain this is a fact. A simple glass with dinner turns me into a beet with a mild itch.

So, what's the coincidence of the day? Ed has the same problem. He always has.

And that's OK.


Roobeedoo said...

So - herbal tea from now on? You'll be taking up religion next!

tim's wife said...

Welcome to the dry gang. I can't drink booze either. The upside is, you'll now make a terrific designated driver. said...

How interesting.... might want to watch out for food with an ingredient called "sugar alcohol" as well - I'm not kidding. A friend of mine who is very sensitive to alcohol cannot eat anything with sugar derived from alcohol or where alcohol has been used as an ingredient, like "brandied pears" or even a wine sauce... Blessings!

Jean said...

Dear Andre,
My name is Jean and I’m with the National Bone Marrow Transplant Link. Our organization helps patients, caregivers, and families cope with the social and emotional challenges of transplant from diagnosis through survivorship by providing vital information and personalized support services. We subscribe to Google blog alerts, where we found your story.
I wish you all the best on this difficult journey; please know that others are thinking of you and pulling for you!
If you would like to find out more about our programs and services, please visit or call 800-546-5268.