Siblings Kingsley and Vanessa were both born with sickle cell disease, the blood disorder that causes the breakdown of red blood cells and can result in blocking oxygen and blood flow to certain parts of the body.
Many who suffer from sickle cell, like Kingsley and Vanessa, live a life filled with excruciating pain, doctor visits, sickle cell emergencies, inability to do the simplest of tasks, and just overall heartache from such a horrible disease. Over a lifetime, sickle cell disease can harm a patient’s spleen, brain, eyes, lungs, liver, heart, kidneys, penis, joints, bones, or skin.
But Kingsley and Vanessa’s little brother, Stefan, who was 8-years-old- at the time, literally came to the rescue and saved both of their lives.
It was only after the family decided that they would go through the bone marrow transplant process with both Kingsley and Vanessa, that they were surprised and ecstatic to discover that Stefan was a match for both of their other children.
Vanessa was cured after Stefan gave her a transplant a few years ago and now Kingsley is cured from a transplant that Stefan gave him.
“It’s incredibly rare to have the same donor give to two different siblings. You know, to match is uncommon, but it’s not impossible,” Dr. David Shook told the news outlet.
Their mother Nikki Aihe says this has been a huge blessing for the family. The family hopes their story will inspire others to spread awareness about sickle cell and individuals will step up and become donors.
There have been efforts to bring attention to the disease and its disparities. Pfizer announced that the company is teaming up with other sickle cell advocates to push research surrounding the disease forward.
“It’s incredibly rare to have the same donor give to two different siblings,” their Aihes’ physician, Dr. David Shook, told WESH.
“It’s kind of a bit of a miracle, in my opinion,” Kingsley adds.
“I feel like God made it happen for us,” Aihe shares.
It is estimated that:
- SCD affects approximately 100,000 Americans.
- SCD occurs among about 1 out of every 365 Black or African-American births.
- SCD occurs among about 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic-American births.
- About 1 in 13 Black or African-American babies is born with sickle cell trait (SCT).
Unlike sickle cell disease, individuals with sickle cell trait carry only one defective gene and typically live normal lives. Rarely, extreme conditions such as severe dehydration and high-intensity physical activity can lead to serious health issues, including sudden death, for individuals with sickle cell trait.
If an individual has sickle cell trait, it means that he or she carries or has inherited a single copy of the gene that causes sickle cell disease. It is possible for individuals with sickle cell trait to pass the gene to their children.
If you suspect that you or your child has the sickle cell trait, contact your doctor about getting tested.