Cure for Sickle Cell Anemia


"The doctors told us that our son may not be with us for very long. We didn't even know if he would make it to his teens."
- Joseph Davis Sr.

A lucky twist of fate

Joseph and Darlene Davis of Cedar Hill, Texas are the proud parents of two healthy sons, 12-year-old Joseph Jr. and 10-year-old Isaac; the one Darlene calls her miracle child.

Joseph Jr. wasn't always the strong and healthy boy he is today. Diagnosed at birth with sickle cell anemia, Joseph Jr. lived in constant pain. He ran high fevers, suffered from swollen hands and feet and required frequent blood transfusions to control his red blood cell count. To run and play like other kids his age, Joseph Jr. would need a stem cell transplant. "The doctors told us that our son may not be with us for very long," said Joseph Sr. "We didn't even know if he would make it to his teens."

Joseph Jr.'s parents were determined to help their son. They spent a year searching for a match, first for bone marrow and then for cord blood. "Being African American made it so much more difficult," added Darlene.

The discouraged parents worried constantly about their son, until a lucky twist of fate turned the family's life around. Darlene was pregnant. At first the couple couldn't believe it. They had undergone infertility treatments to get pregnant with Joseph Jr. and never counted on having another child.

It's a perfect match

The couple was elated. Amniocentesis revealed that the baby Darlene was carrying was sickle-cell free and a perfect match for Joseph Jr. She recalls the moment the doctor told her the news, "He said, 'This is a miracle,' and I said, ‘Yes it is!'"

Darlene gave birth to a healthy baby boy. "I was happy, so I named my baby Isaac, because that means laughter," said Darlene.

Minutes after Isaac was born, doctors collected the blood from his umbilical cord. His stem cells were banked with CBR, free of charge, as part of the Designated Treatment Program® for families—a service provided based on medical need.

Joseph Jr. has the transplant

Prior to the cord blood transplant, Joseph Jr. received high doses of chemotherapy to destroy the blood that was creating the sickle cells. His physician, Dr. Joel Weinthal, pediatric hematologist and stem cell transplant physician explained, "Once we wiped those completely out with high-dose chemotherapy, the new donor cells from the cord blood could be given to form an entirely new blood and immune system, which would not have sickle cell anemia."

Isaac's cord blood stem cells were transplanted into his brother on May 10, 2002. "It was about 20 days after the transplant, when all of a sudden he started feeling better," said Joseph Sr. "He started looking good, his energy was back, and he was on his way to recovery."

A lasting cure 

Since Joseph Jr.'s cord blood transplant, he has been a healthy, vibrant young boy, and will live sickle-cell free for the rest of his life. At home, the boys play and wrestle and, according to their parents, are as close as brothers can be. "That Isaac was there to save Joseph – that's the miracle," said Joseph Sr.

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