Miracle Sister: Stem Cells Saved Her Life

When leukemia took over young Elham’s health in 2014, her parents were devastated. At just 12 years-old, she would experience pain that no child her age should know. Lost and unsure of how to help their daughter, they didn’t realize that after many unsuccessful tries, their miracle would be what was growing inside of Elham’s mom’s belly.

After undergoing three unsuccessful rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, Elham’s doctors suggested a second option for treatment: a bone marrow transplant, recommended for its hematopoietic stem cells which are known for their ability to replace diseased blood cells with new, healthy blood cells. Elham’s family immediately stepped in for testing to help her, but after searching through her list of relatives, doctors were unable to find a related donor match. With so many failed attempts, her family felt discouraged and unsure how their daughter would survive this illness. Then they found out Elham’s mom was pregnant with their miracle third option: a baby (and her umbilical cord blood)!

With the exciting news of a new baby, Elham’s doctors mentioned to her family that they should consider banking the baby’s cord blood stem cells. Stem cells found in the umbilical cord hold the same qualities as the stem cells found in bone marrow without the age and environmental exposure factors which can weaken their viability and engraftment success. With cord blood cells, the match testing is less extensive and the chances for graft-vs-host disease is much smaller. Learning of Elham’s mom’s pregnancy and the opportunity for Elham’s treatment, the family was able to feel some relief. All Elham and her family had to do now was wait for baby Fatima’s birth.

Fatima’s umbilical cord blood turned out to be a 100% match to Elham and even though this was great news, they faced yet another complication. Doctors informed the family that Fatima’s cord blood sample was not a sufficient enough for Elham’s transplant. Because of this, the physician’s committee refused the family’s request for Elham’s treatment. Fortunately for Elham, she was able to find a second donor which when combined with her sister’s sample, was enough for treatment.

After the successful engraftment of stem cells, Elham is doing much better. Not only is she a happy and healthy teenager, she is able to participate in activities of other teenagers her age. Her illness was a sudden and unexpected case that took a toll on her and her family. Thanks to baby Fatima, Elham and her family have a newfound hope that they are immensely grateful for. Read more about their cord blood story here.

Find out if private cord blood banking is right for your family! Contact us to speak with one of our Cord Blood Specialists for more information.

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