In 2006, Heidi Tweten writes:
Hello. I’m Heidi and the only reason I’m able to write to you is because I was saved by a cord blood transplant.
When I was 10 months old, I was diagnosed with Diamond Blackfan Anemia. With that disorder no red blood cells are made, so monthly transfusions were necessary. The only cure of that disease was a hematopoietic stem cell transplant. For a bone marrow transplant a “good match” is needed or the risk is too great. The risks are rejection of the marrow and graft vs host disease, where the organs can fail. Since no one in my family was considered a “good match," I had monthly transfusions until I was 2O years old.
By the time I was 20, I had made antibodies against the donated blood and my quality of life had greatly decreased. Even though I was then being transfused every two weeks, I was still tired most of the time. Since I was unable to keep up with my school work, I had to withdraw from college. Looking for other options was becoming necessary.
That is when my mom read about cord blood transplants. With a cord blood transplant, the blood is collected from the umbilical cord of a newborn and used for transplant. There’s no risk to the baby and a new life can be given to others. When we learned that the risk of graft vs host disease is decreased with a suitably matched cord blood transplant, I jumped for the offer.
Nine years ago I had my transplant and I now live a normal life. At the time of transplant I had minimal graft vs host disease, which is now completely resolved. I’ve been off anti-rejection medications for years and all my blood counts are normal.
Since transplant I’ve had a busy life. I graduated from nursing school, got married, and adopted a wonderful baby boy. None of that would have been possible without God’s help, a little girl who is now more than nine years old, and her generous parents.