Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital (LLUCH) is one of six hospitals in the University’s health system. They are a faith-based system located in Southern California. They are the only pediatric hospital in the region. Approximately 100,000 patients visit the hospital each year.
They’ve just announced they’ve completed their first stem cell transplant for sickle cell disease, successfully curing an eleven year old girl with the illness.
The hospital is so excited about this success because it means that families in the region don’t have to travel so far for treatment. They can confidently go to their nearby hospital to receive the therapy they need.
This transplant was given to a young girl named Valeria Vargas-Olmedo. The stem cells were donated by her father. Unfortunately, her father’s cells weren’t an exact match. The hospital modified the father’s cells to ensure the transplant would be successful.
That also means that not only was this the hospitals first stem cell transplant, it was also their first haploidentical transplant.
Before the transplant, Valeria lived with chronic pain and suffered from bone necrosis and bone loss. She had to stop attending school, and wasn’t even able to walk in the time right before her transplant. Now she’s back to her normal activities, as her mom says, doing “what an 11-year-old should be doing.”
Her family is extremely grateful for the transplant team and says only good things about their experience at the hospital. They are also excited that their procedure could pave the way for other patients in the area to experience the same outcomes.
The hospital treats one of the highest numbers of sickle cell patients on the west coast. To date, there are around 300 patients in their program. Valeria’s family hopes that their experience spreads hope and encouragement to these other patients and reassures them about the great care they will receive at LLUCH.
You can read more about this family’s experience here.