Myelodysplastic syndromes refers to a group of bone marrow failure diseases.
If you think of bone marrow as the body’s blood cell and platelet factory, when the department that runs red blood cell manufacturing slows down, anemia is the result. If the bone marrow department that produces white blood cells goes on a worker slow-down, neutropenia occurs. The platelet department can also go on strike; thrombocytopenia comes into play. Thrombocytopenia, by the way, is a five-dollar word for low platelet cell counts. The blood cells that are produced appear oddly-shaped.
None of these conditions bode well for the patient, but because of the slow nature of progression, MDS is rarely fatal. The downside is that the body lacks the proper ability to fight infections.
One treatment that is particularly effective is the bone marrow transplant. But there are other treatments for MDS.
For a list of organizations, treatment centers, and information resources, click here.
Recently, the people of a small town in Minnesota laid to rest native son Hank, 73. Hank had MDS, but it wasn’t the focus of his life. Instead, Hank dedicated his time to helping people stay sober. He, himself, celebrated 39 years of sobriety. Friends said he never met a person who was beyond hope. Among his outreach efforts was the founding of a ministry at a local jail more than 30 years ago.