Nick Prychitko had never heard of idiopathic aplastic anemia until he was diagnosed with it last year.
“Early last April, I started to notice a few symptoms — among other things, I was just feeling exhausted all the time,” the 21-year-old said. “I ended up going in to get checked for bloodwork — turns out my blood cell counts were seriously low.” So low in fact, that he ended up at Health Sciences Centre later that day.
Nick had a bone marrow biopsy to determine the problem and was told he had a serious blood disorder. He was kept in the hospital for the next two months.
“I think in my case, it was almost a good thing that I hadn’t heard of it because I wasn’t able to fully understand how serious it was … I had no idea what the cause or what the symptoms even were,” he said.
After being diagnosed, it was clear immediate action was needed. Nick had to find a bone marrow donor — and luckily, his sister Tasha was a match.
“I remember getting the call from the donor coordinator, Judy, at 8 a.m. so it kind of woke me up — I wasn’t really expecting it that day,” Tasha said. “We had done some bloodwork on myself and my sister to see who would be the best match, or if there was a match.”
“I got this call and I was so happy … it was amazing, the feeling of getting to make those phone calls to my family and my brother saying that I was a perfect match for him.”
Just a few weeks after learning her bone marrow was compatible with Nick’s, Tasha went in for surgery.
“I had 1.2 litres of bone marrow removed for the donation and for the first week or so I was quite tired. I was mostly in bed, getting up every once in a while to move around,” she said. “But where they do the surgeries — in the lower back, hip bone areas — it was difficult to lie down too much there.”
For Nick, the process went smoothly from start to finish.
“I thankfully didn’t worry too much throughout the entire thing, just because I think I was so lucky to have found a match for a donor so soon that I was pretty stress-free about it,” he said.
“I feel great now — not back in school yet but I’m going back in the spring and then going back to work soon, but I was out skating at the outdoor rink a few weeks ago. I’m back in the gym four or five times a week now which is all I could hope for because I was sitting in the hospital in bed for two months just going stir crazy.”
“It was a little tough considering I’ve always been active my entire life so that was a bit of a culture shock for me.”
Nick’s recovery was made as smooth as possible thanks to the quality care at Health Sciences Centre.
“It’s an incredible story — and what better barometer for being healthy than being able to skate outdoors in January in Winnipeg,” Jonathon Lyon, president and CEO of the Health Sciences Centre Foundation, said.
“We all take health for granted and sometimes, unfortunately, bad things happen. But when it does, that’s why it’s important to support places like Health Sciences Centre, the backbone of healthcare in our province.”
You can hear more inspirational stories during the HSC Foundation Hope to Life Radiothon presented by Maric Homes on 680 CJOB on Friday, Jan. 24 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information and to make your donation to the Hope to Life Radiothon, please visit www.hopetolife.ca or call 204-515-5612.