Hour Thirteen – Life Is Mary Pecaut

Hour Thirteen  –  Life is     Mary Pecaut


Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.   John Lennon


Neither good nor bad – life happens.

Like when Fatima, 17, was diagnosed

with Severe Aplastic Anemia. 

Her bone marrow stopped producing blood cells.

No red cells, no white cells, no platelets.

There was no treatment in Mauritania.

Her home, a geographic death sentence.


We traveled the world in search of a cure.

Her first passport, first time on an airplane –

The woman seated next to her 

touched the bald man’s head in front

in order to perform ablutions?

First prayer in the skies.


In Tunis, another bone marrow biopsy.

I bribed armed guards at the blood hospital

for packets of liquid gold to transfuse.

Cradling platelet packets, I rocked and sang

Gratitude prayers for donors we’d never meet.

I added your name to the four year wait list 

for a stem cell transplant. Of course – Libyans had fled 

their war.   We rocked platelet packets and sang

gratitude prayers for donors we would never know.

Could your brother be a match for a transplant?


In Malaysia, ATG shock and awe – 

An attempt to zap her body into production.

It didn’t work.

She embraced 

Muslim nurses’ fashion – colorful Head scarves with pins,

wrote her first English words 

in mashed potatoes on the hospital tray

thank you.


Vietnam platelets were the best – lasted the longest. 

Fatima mastered chopsticks, designed modest clothes,

sewed and learned to bow and say, ‘Xin chao’.


By the time she reached the NIH, in the US

she was a transfusion pro

Her brother was the match!

The medical team, cleaning staff

proposed ‘‘Songs of the Day’ for her intensive

care stay.   The transplant recovery kids 

from Childrens’ Inn danced the halls at night, 

as she shuffled, her partner the IV pole. 


A three year odyssey of healing

The world kept her alive.


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