Behind the scenes of Children’s National Hospital’s pediatric bone marrow transplant program

Here, find a heartwarming story about a lifesaving bone marrow transplant, and more information on joining a registry.

child holding a teddy bear in hospital bed as nurse comforts her
© Photographee.eu / stock.adobe.com

A Northern Virginia family received the gift of life in the form of a bone marrow transplant. At 3 months, their now 2-year-old daughter, Eleanor, was diagnosed with an immunodeficiency and needed a bone marrow transplant to survive.

“When we found out that Eleanor needed a bone marrow transplant to save her life, we were fearful and wondered if there was a donor who could save her,” says Jessica, Eleanor’s mom.

Everything changed when Eleanor’s medical team notified her family that there was a perfect match on the bone marrow registry. “We cried tears of joy for the first time in weeks,” says Jessica. “We were so relieved that she was fortunate enough to find a match.”

With an average rate of an 80% survival rate, Children’s National Hospital is one of the only dedicated pediatric bone marrow transplant programs in the region.

“Our bone marrow transplant program has a dedicated multidisciplinary team of physicians, advanced practice providers and other supportive care staff that are involved in each patient’s transplant journey, says Sameeya Ahmed-Winston, CPNP-PC, a nurse practitioner with the Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program at Children’s National Hospital. “We combine evidenced-based research, cellular therapies and other advanced therapies and treatments to provide a holistic approach and provide the best chance of a cure for all of our patients.”

Since undergoing her bone marrow transplant, Eleanor is doing great. “Eleanor is doing remarkably well,” says Jessica. “She’s in day care now, with all of the other children, which is a huge indicator that her immune system is working well. She’s almost a perfectly healthy normal kid.”

Eleanor and her family had the opportunity to meet her donor for the first time this fall at a college football game. Mike Mushaw, a linebacker for the Central Connecticut State University Blue Devils was Eleanor’s perfect match.

“Meeting Eleanor’s donor for the first time was an indescribable feeling,” says Jessica. “We cried happy tears and thanked him for everything that he did for our family.”

This holiday season, consider offering the gift of life through a bone marrow donation. Joining a donor registry will give you the opportunity to help patients that are in need. While finding a match isn’t guaranteed, donating increases your chances of becoming a patient’s perfect match. According to Be The Match, joining a registry requires a sample of cells, usually collected by swabbing the inside of your cheek. For more information about the donation process please visit Be The Match today.

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