Like any other complex and evolving medical discipline, stem cell transplantation requires not only highly-trained specialists to evaluate patients and carry out procedures but high-caliber equipment, dedicated clinical facilities and extensive support services to keep us on the cutting edge.
From the moment Aiden was born, he began to show subtle abnormalities. His baby skin showed chronic blotches of eczema and he began having bloody stools. But when petechiae (a skin rash caused by an abnormally low platelet count) appeared on his tiny body, his pediatrician immediately referred Aiden to the local community hospital for testing. His worried parents consulted several pediatric specialists, but when after three months they still had no diagnosis, they took him to a different hospital for more tests. Blood work revealed that Aiden’s platelet count was dangerously low and he was therefore started on repeated (often-daily) transfusions of platelets while the doctors searched for answers. He was eventually diagnosed with Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, a rare hereditary immunodeficiency and platelet disorder seen in as few as four in a million newborns. Aiden’s parents learned that if their son wasn’t treated aggressively — and soon, he would most likely succumb either to a catastrophic hemorrhage or to overwhelming infection. They were told that the only established cure for Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome was a stem cell transplant from a compatible donor.
A friend of the family urged them to take Aiden to Cohen Children’s Medical Center, and in March 2011, he received an unrelated-donor umbilical cord blood transplant. His mother recalls, “We traveled a long road to get here, but from the moment Aiden was admitted, it’s actually been a pleasant experience. Everyone was so warm and caring, and the doctors so confident that they could fix the problem, so good at explaining every step of the process, that we relaxed.” Happily, Aiden responded quickly to the transplant. Following engraftment of the cord blood stem cells, his platelet count rose to normal levels and his immune system normalized. Today, he is a healthy, mischievous three-year-old, a great example of how a very serious medical problem can often be overcome when all the right elements — diagnosis, intervention, and expert care — come together as they do every day at CCMC.
“Everyone was so warm and caring, and the doctors so confident.” -Rosemary, Aiden’s mother