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Sickle cell anaemia cure from sibling cord blood

A little girl suffering from sickle cell anaemia is now well and back at school following an umbilical cord blood stem cell transfusion from her brother.

Since birth, American girl Carol Mulumba, now 10, had been shuttled to and from emergency rooms and specialists, fighting Sickle cell anaemia – an inherited abnormality of the blood that can lead to blindness and organ failure.

Hunting for a transplant match for their daughter, the Mulumbas scoured public cord blood banks around the country, but without luck.

When Lukiah Mulumba became pregnant, the Cord Blood Registry offered to store her baby’s cord blood for free as part of a programme it offers to some 3,500 close relatives of patients with diseases treatable by cord blood.

As Carol grew older her pain worsened, but pain relief including morphine stopped working. Her growth was stunted, her eyes became yellow and jaundiced, and ultrasounds of her brain showed a stroke was imminent. As Carol’s brother was a match, doctors gave Carol a transfusion of his umbilical cord blood stem cells. In addition, the doctors used chemotherapy to force Carol’s bones to stop producing cells so the new blood could catch on. After a month, Carol’s results showed 100% healthy blood cells.

She spent another 6 months in bed, time in which her eyes cleared and her pain went away, said her father. Although she had to wear a surgical mask at first, she was allowed to go back to school in 2010.

“It took time,” said Carol, who said the hardest part of the process was being quarantined from most visitors. “I’m not short anymore,” she added.

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