An American boy has cured his siblings of sickle cell disease by donating his bone marrow, Ebony reports. While treatable, the inherited disorder can lead to complications that may result in death.
Stefan Aihe (8) of Orlando, Florida, was a perfect match for his siblings – brother Kingsley (22) and sister Vanessa (13) – who were both born with the disease.
“It’s kind of a bit of a miracle, in my opinion,” Kingsley said of his brother’s donation. He got the transplant in November last year while his sister had the procedure a few years earlier.
While a bone marrow transplant is the only cure for sickle cell disease and has a high success rate, it is difficult to find a match. That’s why doctors were stunned when Stefan was a perfect donor for both his siblings.
“It’s incredibly rare to have the same donor give to two different siblings,” Dr David Shook, who performed the procedure, told wesh.com. “It’s uncommon, but it’s not impossible.”
The World Health Organization describes sickle cell disease – also known as sickle cell anaemia – as “a major genetic disease that affects most countries in the African region”.
People with the disease have red blood cells which are shaped like crescent moons. While round red blood cells can move easily through blood vessels, sickled shaped cells interconnect and can result in blood clots.