Mitch Santana was not yet two years old,
extremely ill with infantile acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL).
Mitch had no brothers or sisters with matching bone marrow. So Mitch,
his family and doctors anxiously waited for someone, somewhere,
who matched Mitch's tissue types exactly and was willing to undergo
the somewhat daunting process of having his or her bone marrow harvested
surgically. But there were no matched unrelated donors in any registry
Mitch had been diagnosed on October 1, 1992,
when he was 9 ½ months old. He was in the middle of intensive
treatment when he relapsed six months later. Mitch's doctors treated
him again with intensive chemotherapy to get him back in remission,
but they told his family that he would again relapse. With no related
marrow donor, they had only two options: an unrelated cord blood
transplant or an autologous transplant. On September 13, 1993,
Mitch got a transplant at Duke University with a cord blood unit from the NCBP. On September
12, his brother, Brad, had turned nine years old. As his mother,
Minnie Santana says: "Now Mitch and his brother have back-to-back birthdays. Mitch has two birthdays, his transplant day and
the day he was born."
Mitch came home from the hospital right
before he turned two years old. Now 16 years after his transplant,
he is considered cured and is doing great. Mitch is now a happy, healthy young adolescent.