Stem cell transplant helps boy grow past rare disease

By Amber South

asouth@publicopinionnews.com @AESouthPO on Twitter

MERCERSBURG >> Two years after a stem cell transplant, Chevy Hockenberry is growing in mind and body toward the 4-year-old that he is.

He has started a preschool program, and is improving his speech and getting physically stronger.

"He's just very much like a normal boy now," said his mom, Melissa Johnson, of Mercersburg. He is the son of Lance Hockenberry, Fayetteville.

But Chevy continues to wear hearing aids and glasses, and still has some physical issues with his bones to contend with as he continues his journey living with Hurlers syndrome.

Public Opinion last talked to Johnson in March 2012, about a week before the stem cell transplant surgery to prevent the disease from gaining more ground inside Chevy's little body.

Doctors diagnosed Chevy with Hurlers syndrome in January 2012. The rare, inherited disease prevents the body from producing an enzyme that helps break down and process long chains of sugar molecules, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center's website. Without the enzyme, the sugar molecules can build up and damage organs.

Chevy stayed at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for six months after his surgery. The results of the surgery were not immediately great.

"He got really sick after the transplant," Johnson said.

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Stem cell transplant helps boy grow past rare disease

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