Maurice Elias, who was born with severe combined immunodeficiency, has met up with the doctor who saved his life almost fifty years ago. For more information, you can read the source article here, at the UCLA Newsroom.
About Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID)
SCID is a group of rare and life-threatening immunodeficiency disorders. People who have SCID are born with extremely weakened immune systems and are at risk of developing infections that can become fatal. Infants with SCID often become ill within the first few months of life, although modern medicines have led to significant improvements in doctors’ ability to treat the condition.
Maurice’s mother Carol became worried about his health when Maurice was just three months old. He had suffered from frequent illness and infection, including oral thrush, a runny nose, and vomiting. “I just knew something serious was wrong with him”, Carol said. Despite going to the doctors often, Maurice seemed to be getting worse instead of better.
Eventually, the family was referred to specialists, and Maurice was diagnosed with pneumonia. He was kept in a sterile incubator and treated for the infection, but the doctors had also diagnosed ten-month-old Maurice with SCID and there were limited treatment options available.
Treatment for Maurice
Dr. Stiehm, who treated Maurice, said that the only chance he had at survival was to undergo a bone marrow transplant, which at the time was an extremely experimental treatment for the condition. It had only been carried out successfully in one other patient with SCID, and there was a risk that Maurice wouldn’t survive the procedure.
His parents decided to go ahead with the procedure, and his siblings were tested to see whether they had matching lymphocytes. Maurice’s thirteen-year-old sister Tamara was thought to be the best donor, but it wasn’t clear whether the match would work.
After the transplant procedure, Maurice’s oral thrush cleared up, and he seemed to be getting better until he began to show signs of graft-versus-host disease. Two weeks later, his condition began to improve again. Just after he turned one, he was well enough to be sent home. Since then, his health has been much better.
This year, Maurice, along with his mother and two sisters, decided to visit UCLA to meet Dr. Stiehm who treated him when he was a baby. The family and doctor hadn’t seen each other in decades, and Maurice’s mother Carol said she was glad to have the opportunity to thank him for his work all these years later.