In 2006, Anthony's mother
Our son Anthony had a cord blood transplant at five months old. It saved his life. Anthony was diagnosed at four months of age with a rare genetic bone disorder called Osteopetrosis. The only cure for this life threatening illness is hematopoietic stem cell transplant. His doctors discussed using cord blood. The cord blood, (the blood taken from the umbilical cord) rich in stem cells, is usually discarded after birth. What a waste of valuable life-saving material. Knowing that Anthony would need to be transplanted as soon as possible, they started the search for a cord blood match. One of the reasons for using cord blood is that if a match is found, it's readily available.
I can not even begin to tell you what it felt like not knowing if our baby was going to survive, to have this little tiny being that you helped create and grow inside you be taken away from you within the first few months of his life. It's devastating.
Within a week, a match was found! After all the pre- transplant testing, Anthony was admitted on December 3, 2002, and did eight days of chemotherapy to bring all of his counts to zero in preparation for his transplant. Anthony was transplanted on December 12, 2002, one month after his diagnosis. That was one of the greatest days of our lives. Our son was getting a second chance of life. There were some rocky moments during his two-month stay in the hospital, such as ending up in ICU, but he had a will to survive and on January 31st, his blood counts were at a safe level for him to come home. Anthony is now four years old and continues to recover very well. He is learning to play the piano and is taking horseback riding lessons.
The ironic thing is, during my pregnancy I read up on storing your baby's cord blood. We decided to save it with a private company. We didn't have any genetic diseases in our families, or so we thought. We kept it as a security blanket. Since we couldn't use Anthony's own cord blood for his transplant because his own stem cells contained the cells that didn't function properly, we have donated it to the medical team that does the research for Osteopetrosis. The team has never had the opportunity to do research on the cord blood of a baby with the disorder. We are hoping that they will be able to discover some new information that they have never before been able to do.
What happened to us can happen to anyone. Vic and I are from very different backgrounds and somehow we carry this same rare recessive gene. Our little boy--now an active pre-schooler--is alive and smiling today because of his transplant.
It costs you nothing to donate, and think of how many lives you can help save. We are so thankful for the family that donated their baby's cord blood that Anthony received. We hope to meet with them one day and let them know how truly grateful we are.