It was very lucky indeed that my brother, my only brother, was a match for the bone marrow transplant.
Being a professional tennis player in 2007 while playing a tournament in Macedonia, I collapsed after two matches. Back in Egypt, I was diagnosed with a bone marrow failure (Aplastic Anemia). Doctors said that I couldn’t wait, and I needed a transplant as soon as possible. The treatment I was receiving had already reached the maximum results. We began searching for treatments abroad, looking for a bone marrow donor.
It was very lucky indeed that my brother, my only brother, was a match for the bone marrow transplant. I was in an isolation room that everyone was forbidden to enter.
Forty-five days passing for you feels like many years. Imagine your body becoming weaker every day – everyday blood transfusions, every day injections. Every day, the same special food, which is completely bland and tasteless. The time passed as if in slow motion, it was the equivalent of being in prison.
I came out of the operation very happy, and the doctor told me: “Take care; outside you should wear a mask, eat special food at home, and stay in this period until we see what happens. Ask God to prevent something named graft versus host disease (GvHD).” I was looking on the internet to understand the meaning of this sickness. It happens when the new bone marrow starts attacking the body and the opposite. This process must be kept under control, and if it’s not, you will die.
Very big dosages of Prednisolone and many other medicines were given to control my new bone marrow. As more time and treatments passed, the weaker these medicines made my body. Again, I was forced to stay in the hospital for months, just when I thought that horrible period was in the past. My shape changed totally. From an athletic person weighing 80kg, who runs 10 km in 45 minutes to suddenly someone who cannot even run 100 meters? I kept saying sure, it’s just a nightmare, for sure someone will wake me up saying: “Wake up, it was just a dream!”
After the first time I ran, I returned home furious and broke everything around me because it was not acceptable that I was running and someone beside me was just walking. So, for me to reach the stage of playing tennis again would need a miracle. One day when I came to my doctor’s clinic, I told him: “Look at my hands and my fingers…” My fingers were blue in some places and black in some, and that was the beginning of gangrene. If my hand will be amputated it means the battle is over.
With God’s help and the professionalism of my doctor, my hands recovered, and it was a true miracle recovery. Step by step, I was trying to get back on the court again. Prednisolone destroyed my bones and my muscles. I lived in this long stage of different injuries and strong pain for two years, but I had already won a lot of battles before, so I had to win the next one too. This was the battle to regain my healthy, athletic body. With God’s help, I won this battle after two years and got my body back.
Now I am 100% recovered and have reached the same level of tennis and fitness that I had before my operation. I am competing with normal professional players, participating in international tournaments again, and becoming the first athlete in the whole world who returned to professional sports after bone marrow transplant operation.
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