Now these are the kind of stories we love to read about!
Canadian Revée Agyepong is the first adult in Canada to be cured of sickle cell anemia through stem cell translation, according to reports and Canadian health officials.
Revée, who is 26, received her donor stem cells from her sister last year.
Sickle cell anemia is the most well-known and severe of the sickle cell diseases (SCD).
Normally, the protein hemoglobin, which is located on red blood cells, carries oxygen steadily through the body. However, with sickle cell anemia, sickle hemoglobin (hemoglobin S) causes strands to form that distort and stiffen red blood cells. Without their usual flexible shape, these crescent-like “sickle cells” get caught along vessel walls, creating blockages and halting the flow of oxygen. Click here to learn more about sickle cell anemia.
People with sickle cell diseases generally live up to their 50s – which makes this breakthrough all the more fantastic and heartening!
In the past, stem cell transplants have been used to treat children, but doctors feared it could harm adult patients. Revée’s success is beacon for future procedures!
“I was just excited to know we would get the HLA testing which is the compatibility testing,” says Revée. “We hoped for the best, crossed our fingers, and then, on her birthday – which is crazy, we got the best news ever; that she was a ten-out-of-ten match.”
Just last week, her blood confirmed she was sickle-cell disease free!
“Over the past few months, what we’ve seen is that Revée’s sister’s bone marrow has taken over the production of Revée’s red blood cells,” says Dr. Andrew Daly, who leads Alberta’s bone marrow transplant program at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. “The amount of sickle-cell hemoglobin in her bloodstream has decreased almost to zero.”
“I can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” says Revée. “I’m not feeling as much pain. I’m not exhausted. So I’m excited for that.”