If you or someone you know suffers from sickle cell disease, hope is on the way. Iesha Thomas, who suffered from the disease herself, is the first person to be cured. This is huge!!!
Sickle cell affects 1 in every 500 African Americans in the U.S. But, the good news is, this disease might be on its way out. Fingers crossed.
Iesha Thomas, 33, was living with the disease that progressively got worse as she got older. It really wreaked havoc on her life after she gave birth to her daughter, resulting in her needing repeat blood transfusions and 2 hip replacements due to bone damage.
The disease can be extremely painful. What happens with the disease is a defect that causes the oxygen-carrying red blood cells to take on a sickle like appearance. The blood cells deliver less oxygen to the body’s tissues, causing severe pain, stroke, and even organ damage.
But a great breakthrough has occurred! Thomas is the first patient in the midwest to be cured of the Sickle Cell Disease.
“I just want to be at home with my daughter every day and every night,” said Thomas.
Physicians at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Science System performed a procedure using medication to suppress her immune system and a small dose of total body radiation before doing the stem cell transplant. No worries though, part of the immune system will survive; this is only done to lessen the risk of infection.
The procedure allows for the patient’s own bone marrow to coexist with that of the donor. The goal of the transplant is for the stem cells to gradually take over the bone marrow’s role in producing normal, and healthy red blood cells.