Health Team

Bone marrow transplant helps people fighting sickle cell

Posted July 2, 2014

Juliana Ejedoghaob was diagnosed with sickle cell at the age of 2. It is a genetic disorder where normal donut-shaped red blood cells form a crescent shape.

The effect can clog joints, cause bone pain, make it difficult to breathe and put patients at risk for pneumonia and a stroke.

“Most adults with sickle cell disease have organ damage that would prevent them from being able to get a standard bone marrow transplant,” said Dr. John Tisdale of the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers from the Journal of the American Medical Association tested a regimen that didn’t require destroying all of the bone marrow in adult patients. Thirty of the participants who had a sibling with matching immunity received a less intensive transplant, which was successful for all but four of the patients.

“Using this less toxic way of preparing a patient for a bone marrow transplant had success rates that are comparable to the more toxic kind of transplant that’s performed in children,” Tisdale said.

Ejedoghaob received a transplant from her older sister.

“It changed my life. Yeah, I do get pain, but it’s not compared to what I used to have before,” she said.

She is now a nurse and has big plans for her future.

“I’m just looking forward to just living my life, being normal, getting married and just having my own family.”

Researchers also report that a common transplant complication known as “graft versus host disease” didn’t occur in the tested participants.


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