Diagnosed with the disease as a toddler, Revée Agyepong was always down with chronic bone and joint pain, irregular heartbeat, kidney stones and shortness of breath. Today, 26-year old Revée is among the first adults in Canada to be cured of sickle cell anemia with the help of a stem cell transplant.
Two years ago, the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Canada announced that they have been successful in treating sickle cell disease in young patients using stem cell transplants. On hearing the news, Revée, whose health was declining, decided to leverage on the opportunity but doctors told her she was too old to undergo the procedure.
According to Alberta Health Services, the older the patient and donor in bone marrow transplants, the greater the risk of graft versus host disease, which is a type of immune rejection that can have serious health repercussions and can even result in death.
But Revée’s older sister, Stephanie started to research other centers testing the treatment on adult patients, before approaching Revée’s doctors to share with them the stem cell transplant procedure.
Coincidentally, Revée’s doctor had been thinking about conducting adult stem cell transplants for sickle cell disease. They tested Stephanie and found out that she was a perfect match for her sister. Stephanie’s stem cells were then collected and given to Revée.
Today, Revée’s blood tests does not show any signs of sickle cell disease, which means she is totally cured.
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