Jason Overman is back on solid food and enjoys a carefully balanced diet of watermelon, salmon and root beer.
"That's his favorite meal," Lorraine Hill, Jason's aunt, said Wednesday. "He really wants a salad, but they won't let him have one."The 6-year-old Orem boy is listed in good condition at Primary Children's Medical Center, where he was transferred 16 days ago following an Aug. 18 bone-marrow transplant at UCLA Medical Center.
The transplant was a treatment for neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer attacking the nervous system. Jason's condition was diagnosed in February, and a community fund-raiser held during the spring and summer brought in the $192,000 needed for Jason's transplant.
"Jason is doing fine, and Jane (Jason's mother) is happy to get him back on solid food," Hill said.
Jason is on a special diet of low-bacteria foods, she said.
"He can have most fruits and vegetables that are well cooked, but he can't have them raw," Hill said. "He is allowed to eat fruits that have very thick skins, I guess because the bacteria cannot get through. He eats a lot of watermelon."
Hill said Jason could be released within the next week, then will be quarantined at home. For the following six months, he will travel to Primary Children's Medical Center at least twice a week for tests. If his platelets (a part of the blood that helps with clotting) are low, he will be admitted for a day so he can get transfusions, Hill said.
"He could be in the hospital two days out of seven for the next year," she said.
Jason's white blood count hovers around 7,000, Hill said. White blood cells help the body fight infection. A normal white count is about 15,000 so Jason's immunity is about half what it should be.
Hill said Jason had not had a blood transfusion for three weeks, and doctors hoped he would not need any more. Jason will leave the hospital when he no longer needs regular platelet transfusions. He will continue taking certain antibiotics until at least June, she said.
Jason has suffered no major infections since returning to Utah, she said. In an earlier interview, she said Jason must remain infection free for six months to a year before he will be "out of the woods."
Hill has said it will be much harder to protect Jason when he goes home.
"Once he comes home, the main challenge will be to keep the neighborhood kids away," she said. "Jason's parents will also have to protect him from all the normal `bugs' that go through a family. The next few months will be a stressful period."