‘Butterfly boy’ Jonathan Pitre cleared for second stem cell transplant

Fully recovered from a series of infections, Jonathan Pitre has received medical clearance to undergo a second stem cell transplant.

Pitre, 16, will check into hospital on the last day of March to begin eight days of high-dose chemotherapy and one day of radiation. His stem cell transplant — what doctors call Day Zero — is scheduled for April 13 at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.

The night before he goes into hospital, Pitre will attend the Ottawa Senators game against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Centre in Saint Paul. “It will be a good night of fun before it all starts again,” said Pitre’s mother, Tina Boileau.

She shared the latest news on her Facebook page on Wednesday.

“After many weeks of tests, procedures and appointments at the hospital, Jonathan got the green light to proceed with the second transplant,” she said. “He has completely recovered from his infections and his body is as strong as can be … This time it will work!”

Last September, Pitre suffered nausea, hair loss, fevers and exhaustion in the aftermath of his first transplant, which ultimately failed when his own stem cells recolonized his bone marrow. His second transplant has been delayed because of lung and blood infections.

In an interview earlier this month, Pitre told the Citizen he’s staying positive even though he understands the physical test that he faces in hospital.

“It’s mostly thinking about sticking together with the people you care about, your family,” he said . “You have to stick to them very, very tightly and tell each other that, ‘It’s going to be OK’, and that ‘We’re stronger than this. We’re going through this together, not just alone.’ ”

Pitre suffers from a rare, painful and deadly form of epidermolysis bullosa (EB), a blistering skin disease.

He’s the first Canadian to take part in a clinical trial operated by the University of Minnesota’s Dr. Jakub Tolar, a pediatric transplant specialist who has adapted stem-cell therapy as a treatment for the most severe forms of EB. Although the procedure comes with the potential for life-threatening complications, it has produced dramatic improvements in two-thirds of those EB patients who have survived the transplant: tougher skin, reduced blistering and better wound healing.

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