Finley's Hamlin recovering after transplant

October 3, 2012 

Thanksgiving could hold extra special meaning this year for Abi Hamlin and her family.

Hamlin, who was diagnosed with leukemia in March 2011 during her junior year at River View High School, underwent a cord blood transplant Aug. 6. If all goes according to plan, she could be back at her Finley home before Thanksgiving.

Eight months ago, Hamlin returned to Seattle Children’s Hospital after it was discovered that the original leukemia cells had come out of dormancy.

She was scheduled for a bone marrow transplant in May, but it was postponed after more cancer cells were found. Hamlin went through another round of chemotherapy, and once she was back in remission, the doctors decided to try a cord blood transplant. After a child is born, blood is collected from the umbilical cord and the placenta for transplantation.

So far, the transplant appears to be working.

“All of her blood cells are 100 percent donor cells, which is good,” said her mother, Diane. “The bone marrow is making the right blood cells.”

But there have been complications. Hamlin, 18, went on trial medication to dissolve clots that formed in her liver’s veins. Also, she has needed some dialysis after her kidneys stopped working.

“It’s a waiting game,” Diane Hamlin said. “Her kidneys need to heal. It’s just giving her time to heal, and hopefully her kidneys will come back and start working after they’ve rested.”

Though things are still touch-and-go with her health, Abi is determined to get better and get on with her life.

“We haven’t even touched school yet,” Diane Hamlin said. “She does want to get (her diploma). She definitely wants to get her driver’s license, and she wants to get a car.”

She'll hopefully take the first steps toward that freedom this week, when she plans to move into outpatient care in Seattle.

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