Teen’s bone marrow transplant cures brother of sickle cell

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At two weeks old, Travis Washington was diagnosed with sickle cell disease. Since then, he spent much of his childhood in and out of hospitals, suffering from excruciating pain. At age 11, Travis had a mild stroke that left him weak on one side of his body. He underwent months of physical, occupational and speech therapy and fully recovered.

He began receiving blood transfusions every month to prevent another stroke. But in 2006, Travis had a massive stroke that permanently damaged the right side of his brain and left him partially paralyzed.

The next year, he developed a rare disease called Moyamoya syndrome, which constricts blood flow in the brain and often leads to strokes and seizures. He underwent a six-hour brain surgery at Holtz Children’s Hospital at the Jackson Memorial Medical Center in January 2008 to prevent additional strokes.

Doctors in Palm Beach County referred him to Martin Andreansky, director of the pediatric bone marrow transplant program at Holtz, to evaluate whether he was a candidate for a bone marrow transplant.

Last year, two of his brothers were tested to see if they could be living donors. One of them, Trevis, 17, was a perfect match. On August 5th, Dr. Andreansky performed a successful transplantation, which replaced Travis’ unhealthy cells with healthy stem cells from his brother’s bone marrow. As a result of the transplant, Travis was cured of sickle cell disease. He was recently discharged from Holtz and is recovering well.