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Austin Jones is the son of Anthony and Sarah Jones of Indiana, Pa. He was diagnosed with sickle cell disease shortly after birth.
Both Sarah and Anthony knew before Austin was born that they were carriers of the sickle cell trait, meaning there was a 25 percent chance Austin would inherit the disease. Sarah and Anthony also have two older sons, both of whom are healthy, but they also are carriers of the sickle cell trait.
Austin has suffered serious illnesses due to sickle cell. At 9 months old, he was diagnosed with a bone infection. He also has had severe bouts of pneumonia and acute chest syndrome, a condition common in patients with sickle cell disease caused by sickling in the lungs. This syndrome leads to respiratory problems and lung infections.
In order to keep Austin’s sickle cell levels low, he required blood transfusions as often as every three weeks. In the summer of 2001, tests revealed that Austin had suffered a silent stroke and that he had a narrowing of the blood vessels in his brain.
“All of this told us that Austin had a severe form of sickle cell disease, meaning that he was vulnerable to limb- and life-threatening strokes, infections, and lung and heart damage later in life,” said Lakshmanan Krishnamurti, MD, a hematologist at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
In August 2002, Dr. Krisnamurti discussed with the Jones family the possibility of a bone marrow transplant for Austin. It was determined that Austin’s oldest brother, Anthony Jr., 11, was a bone marrow match. The transplant was performed on Aug. 8, 2003, when Austin was 5 years old. Austin remains well with no evidence of sickle cell disease.
“We’re very excited at the idea that Austin’s battles with pain, infections, pneumonia and blood transplants are behind us,” Anthony Jones Sr. said. “It seems like we’ve spent the majority of his life in doctors’ offices or hospitals. This bone marrow transplant will give Austin a chance to be a normal 5-year-old, and to grow to be an old man.”
Please speak to your doctor if you would like to find out more about bone marrow transplantation for sickle cell disease.
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