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Born with Sickle Cell Disease (a blood disorder in which patients have sharp, sickle shaped red blood cells), Cardelia was destined to live a life of pain and suffering. By the age of 12, she had already suffered three debilitating strokes from which she had to painstakingly recover each time. She remembers being a very frustrated, grumpy little girl…tired of the pain…tired of the endless needles.
At the time, there was no cure for sickle cell disease (SCD). The only thing doctors could offer to her was monthly blood transfusions as a means to improve her blood supply and hopefully outnumber the sickled cells that were getting clogged in her brain and putting her at risk for more strokes. Perpetual transfusions run their own risks…and it was upsetting for Cardelia to think that this was going to be her routine for her whole life.
While preparing to transfer to adult care, Cardelia casually asked her doctor if there was a cure for SCD. She was surprised to hear that a bone marrow transplant might be an option for her if she had a matched sibling donor. Immediately, her older sister, Tamika, was tested and they were thrilled to discover she was a 100% perfect match. After some lengthy conversations with ACH BMT specialist, Dr. Greg Guilcher, Cardelia had the hope that a transplant would give her the best chance for a full and healthy life.
On October 2, 2014, Cardelia received her transplant. She describes the entire experience as “pretty chill”…even boring because she wasn’t able to go out and about as her immune system recovered. She fully recognizes that four months of boredom is a small price to pay for being free of her disease.
In just a few weeks, Cardelia will be completely pill-free. She can’t imagine waking up and not having to take medications to get through the day! While everyone who meets her is quick to realize that Cardelia is a pretty special girl, she looks forward to being a “normal” person. She is very grateful to Dr. Steele, Dr. Guilcher and her nurses for helping her along her journey.