The surgery on Monday went perfectly. The plastic surgeon was able to get the front part of Molly's wound all stitched up and he tightened the stretching stitches on the back part. He said it looks very good and he's very optimistic that he will be able to get it all closed up well on Wednesday. The oncologist found me that afternoon and said that he has been talking to a couple of doctors at Northwestern University, and they are sure that we can get her ovarian tissue preserved! That was such great news, since we were really sad when we heard that her chances of having biological children later on will be basically non existent after radiation. He said that he was working with the fertility lab at the University of Utah Hospital and they will cover the cost of extraction (which is easy since the ovaries are right there in the way when the colon is accessed), the pathology costs (to make sure the tissue is healthy and worth preserving), the freezing, and the first 60 days of storage.
Tuesday night, the fertility doctor from UofU came by to meet with me and Daddy and explained more about the whole process. Basically, they remove one ovary, send a very small piece of it to the pathologist, slice the rest into small pieces and separate them into about 30 vials, use a special slow-freezer to freeze them, and store them until we're ready to have them shipped to the long-term storage facility. Then we'll pay a yearly storage fee ($300-$500 probably) until Molly wants to use the tissue, at which time they will go over the options we have, hoping that medicine advances enough in the next 20 years to increase the chances of successfully maturing the follicles and achieving pregnancy. He explained that when you freeze cells there are always some or all that end up dying, so there's a very real chance that 20 years down the road when Molly is ready to use this tissue, we will have no success with it, but it's worth a shot. He also told us that they have been back and forth so many times in the last two days about whether we would be able to do the preservation or not, not because it is a hard procedure to do, but because they simply don't have the equipment anymore (they used to have the equipment for other research 7-8 years ago but have since gotten rid of it). He said that they were able to find the equipment they needed though, and the special solution they need to put the ovarian tissue in is on it's way so they should be ready by the time they remove the ovary the next morning.
On Wednesday April 15, Daddy took work off again for the big surgery and we got Molly all ready with a sponge bath. I walked with Molly and her bed down to surgery while Daddy took Little Brother down to the surgery waiting room. Big Sis was at Grandma's house for the day. I stayed with Molly while the OR nurses gathered all the paperwork together and the anesthesiologist gave me the rundown of the risks of anesthesia. The oncologist came by and told me that they are all ready to preserve the ovary, and that the bone marrow aspirate results showed the leukemia is still in remission. He said that he and the rest of the team are still talking about putting Molly on low-dose chemotherapy drugs to keep the leukemia in remission while she heals from these other things. The surgeon then came by and said they are all ready to go on his end, and he's got the plastic surgeon coming in after he's done with the rectum removal, ovary removal, and colostomy to stitch up the rest of the open wound she's had for the last three and a half weeks. The operating room was ready for her at that point and I sent her off with the nurses and went to the waiting room. She went in at 10:30am.
A few hours later, the surgeon came out to let us know he was done with his part. He said he was surprised at how necrotized Molly's rectum was, and he would have removed it anyway even if we went in thinking we were going to leave it. He said every other part of the surgery went as planned, they got the ovary sent off to the fertility department, and the plastic surgeon is now in there closing up her open wound.
About 2 hours later, the plastic surgeon came out and gave us a rundown of what he did. He said the front part he stitched up Monday looked very good still, and he was able to get the back stitched up to where he was happy with it. He had to move muscle around a little though. He showed us pictures of what it looks like (don't ask to see them...we're only showing grandparents, and only if they want to see) and we could see she will need a lot of surgical reconstruction in 10-15 years to make things symmetrical again. Until then, she will be just fine with what she has left. Bottom line now is she will retain control of her urine, but the colostomy is permanent.
Molly's recovery from surgery has been good the last two days. Yesterday she slept most of the day, and today she's awake and talking about stuff, watching TV mostly. The plastic surgeon wants her to stay in bed with minimal movement and he said she will go into the OR again on Monday to look over how things are healing and hopefully remove the drainage system they put in to keep fluids from building up. The general surgeon called me last night to tell me the pathology department got back to him regarding the health of Molly's ovarian tissue, and they said that they found loads and loads of healthy follicles there, so that is really great news! We now need to hope the cryopreservation process doesn't kill all of them, that she will survive the leukemia, and that there will be something we can do with them in 20 years if she wants children.
We got visits from the child life specialist and the occupational therapist today, and they are hoping to take Molly down to visit the playroom on the 3rd floor sometime next week. They said that she can go down even if she's in her bed, and Big Sis can be there too and they can play together. Things are sounding more and more normal for Molly, it's making us so happy! The surgery on Wednesday and her fantastic recovery so far is almost like Christmas for me!
Thanks again for everyone's support! You have all been amazing! We've got a long ways to go still, but I don't know how we could've come this far without your help!
We've created a Facebook page for Molly! Come "like" the new Molly's Survival and Thrival page! http://www.facebook.com/mollysurvivesthrives