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Sickle cell patient cured through Children's Hospital's first stem cell transplant
2019-04-24

 

 

Valeria Vargas-Olmedo, 11, from Crestline, received her stem cell donation from her father. [Photo courtesy of Loma Linda University Health]

Apr 16, 2019  |  Loma Linda, California, United States

Doctors at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital recently conducted the institution’s first stem cell transplant in a sickle cell disease patient, effectively curing her of the inherited blood disease. The successful procedure offers hope and accessible treatment to those suffering from the disease in the Inland Empire and surrounding regions.

Children’s Hospital doctors had worked for nearly a year to build a program focused on helping hematology patients, specifically hemophilia and sickle cell disease.

Akshat Jain, MD, pediatric physician specializing in hematologic disorders at Children’s Hospital, said he is pleased with the outcome of the transplant and what it means for future patients suffering from sickle cell disease.

The patient, 11-year-old Valeria Vargas-Olmedo, had lived with sickle cell disease since birth. Her family began seeking treatment last year after she became incapacitated, unable to continue daily activities such as attend school, get in a car or even walk. Doctors said she had debilitating chronic pain, bone loss and bone necrosis.

"She is now disease free and can go back out into the world to do what an 11-year-old should be doing,” Jain said.

Sickle cell disease causes a shortage of red blood cells and thus an oxygen deficiency in one’s body. This can cause chronic pain and other serious complications, such as infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke. Without oxygen, any organ has a high likelihood of dying off.

The Vargas-Olmedo family wants to encourage others families who are struggling with sickle cell disease. "For the parents who see the news of this transplant and deal with this sickness, I hope they are encouraged and know that Children’s Hospital is a great hospital,” Clara Olmedo said. "There are many good doctors, professionals and excellent nurses. I encourage them to ask more questions about this procedure and our experience. They’ve helped us tremendously, and we have our trust in them.”



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