Stem cell treatment offers hope to those sickened after getting bone marrow

wwltv.com

Posted on June 15, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Updated yesterday at 7:35 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEWORLEANS- She was only in kindergarten when doctors gave her family the bad news.

Now she’s one of the first in Louisiana to try a new treatment for people who get gravely ill after a bone marrow transplant.

The last three years of Sami Smith’s life have been physically and emotionally painful.

“I literally, they try to scare me and they can’t, because I’ve been through the scariest thing that you can,” said Smith, 9, of Ponchatoula.

Her mother noticed she was napping more and bruising. Doctors diagnosed AML, a type of leukemia or blood cancer. Had she not gotten to the doctor then, she would not have made it much longer. A Child’s Wish sent her to Disney World. The good news, one of her teen sisters Mary Hannah, 13, was a good bone marrow match. The transplant worked and Sami was cancer free.

Then devastating news. Sami got a condition called GvHD (Graft-versus-host disease) where the new marrow launches a painful attack on the recipient’s body. It’s the leading cause of transplant-related death.

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Stem cell treatment offers hope to those sickened after getting bone marrow