Mother’s Day Guest Columnist Sandy Chang: How Your Brother Saved Your Life

Sandy_chang_brothers Sandy Chang, mother of Titus, 10, and Jed, 7, is married to Lee Chang and lives in Stockton, CA. If you’re interested in more miraculous family stories like the one below, please visit http://www.cordblood.com

Dearest Titus:

When you were 18 months old, you started bruising very easily. Late one evening, you had a bloody nose that refused to stop. Blood came out of both your nostrils; it was seeped from your mouth.

Your father and I rushed you to the hospital. As we waited in the emergency room, your lips became very pale from your losing so much blood. Your blood soaked through a large bath towel. You no longer even had the strength to cry.

The doctors diagnosed aplastic anemia. It’s a rare blood disorder related to cancer and found primarily in elderly people. Moments later an ambulance rushed you to the University of California Davis Medical Center and Children’s Hospital in Sacramento, California.

I was unable to believe any of this nightmare was real, so much so that I demanded that they discharge you immediately. The doctor in charge said offered a solemn warning. He said, “He’ll die if you leave.”

A few days after the hospital discharged you, I noticed your skin color had again turned pale. You were no longer full of energy.

We visited the hospital for red blood cells and platelet transfusions at least three times a week for the next 15 months. The doctors said that the more transfusions you received, the more likely the iron building up inside your body would cause your liver to fail.

The doctors estimated a life expectancy of less than 10 years.

I was willing to do anything for you. But it looked like all the money in the world would still do your health no good.

Two months after your diagnosis, I became pregnant by surprise with your brother Jed. As it happened, we decided to bank his umbilical cord blood stem cells. His cord blood was collected at no cost as part of the hospital’s Newborn Possibilities Program,® a free public service based on medical need.

Next, you underwent chemotherapy to address the damage to your immune system. Then surgeons transplayed your brother’s cord blood in you. The procedure took a few hours.

A few months later, doctors considered you cured.

Now you are 10 years old and in the 4th grade. You’re healthy, happy and 100% cured. You go fishing and play basketball and football, your favorite hobbies. All that remains of what happened to you, physically, are the scars on your chest.

Banking your brother’s cord blood at birth was the best decision I ever made. It’s the only reason you’re still here with us today.

All my love, faith and hope,

Your mother

P.S. — My family is hardly alone in reaping the miraculous benefits of cord blood banking.

Keegan Doheney was diagnosed with leukemia and at the age of 5 had a grim prognosis. Luckily, Keegan’s parents had banked the cord blood of his younger brother, Keldan. That cord blood was infused into Keegan and now, 9 years later, Keegan is still in remission and cancer-free. Keegan says, “My little brother saved my life.”

Joseph Davis was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, a painful and deadly disease. No match could be found in the donor pool. As it turns out, when Joseph’s mother became pregnant with a second child, brother Isaac was a perfect match. Minutes after Isaac was born, doctors collected and infused his umbilical cord blood into Joseph. Today, just a few years later, Joseph is a healthy and active young boy.

Brandyn Orr was only age two when doctors told his parents he had leukemia. Fortunately, his parents decided to bank his brother Devyn’s cord blood at birth, and it was a match. The cord blood was injected into Brandyn in a transplant procedure. Now 11, Brandyn has an extra special bond with his brother.

Cord blood is the blood that remains in your newborn’s umbilical cord after birth. It contains valuable stem cells that can be used in a variety of medical treatments, such as regenerating healthy blood and immune cells after chemotherapy.

Cord blood stem cells have succeeded in more than 25,000 transplants over the last 20 years. Researchers today are investigating newborn stem cells from the umbilical cord as potential therapies to treat conditions that have no cure today.

This field of medicine, wherein scientists evaluate the use of a child’s own cord blood stem cells in experimental treatments for brain injury, cerebral palsy, and hearing loss, is called regenerative medicine.

Protecting your family is a top priority. You can take the first step by saving – or “banking” – your newborn’s cord blood. It’s a one-time opportunity that can change a life for the better, even save one.
P.S.S. – Please see guest column from Faith Tissot tomorrow.
Sandy_chang_family

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