#25 Dazzling

Amy Rothenberg ND
4 min readMar 5, 2024
Rendering of Forty Fruit Tree work of Sam Van Aken

When you read the word chimera you may or may not recall your Greek mythology. From Wikipedia we have: a chimera has come to describe any mythical or fictional creature with parts taken from various animals, to describe anything composed of disparate parts or perceived as wildly imaginative, implausible, or dazzling.

That’s the most positive spin on chimerism I’ve come across. Most have to do with rather nasty and monterous beings, but the point is that a chimera is made up of different genetic parts. For the vast majority of us living beings, we have our own DNA imprinted onto every one of our cells. While I have my own DNA, I also now carry the DNA in my stem cells and blood of my cherished donor. Last week I had the first chimera testing done on my blood and it revealed that, in all the ways they can currently test, 100% of my blood now carries only the genetic fingerprint of my donor. This may shift in the future, but for now, this is the best possible news!

Chimeric testing is carried out to assess the degree of engraftment. If my bone marrow and blood forming capacity was not completely decimated prior to transplant, or if the engraftment was not effective, I could have retained some of my old blood DNA, which by the way, I don’t want! While my own blood served me well in a myriad of ways over all my pristine and healthy decades of life, it’s also the blood that contained leukemia. So, this is an A+ report card, and while I like to think all of Paul and my and our brilliant ND advisors’ efforts helped get me through this phase, I also appreciate that so much of this arduous, elongated, and seemingly successful effort lays at the feet of substantial advances in science and medicine.

While most references to chimera are pretty negative, I am going to lean into the definition that includes dazzling with regard to my newfound personal status of chimerism! Another example of chimerism you may’ve come across recently is the Forty Fruit Tree work of Sam Van Aken, a Syracuse University Professor, who uses chimeric grafting as a way to have different fruits growing from the same tree. This has been done on a smaller scale for generations, but I think we may need one of these 40 Fruit Trees to add to our backyard fruit selection!

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Amy Rothenberg ND

American Association of Naturopathic Physician’s 2017 Physician of the Year. Teacher, writer and advocate for healthy living. www.nhcmed.com