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A historic milestone was reached when the first locally-based Vincentian underwent a bone marrow transplant for treatment of sickle cell disease.

Nine year old Shania Morgan who received the marrow from her mother, Michelle, in an operation at the St Jude’s hospital in Tennessee, USA has now fully recovered.{{more}}

The operation, facilitated by the Caribbean organisation of Sickle Cell Associations (COSCA) was done on August 3.

Shania who is still in hospital spoke with head of COSCA, Paula Calderon of St Lucia this month, and was reported to be in good spirits.

“We fully realise that her recovery will be challenging at this early stage. She is faring well. This is the second such transplant done at the St Jude’s Hospital on behalf of COSCA. St Lucian Shandell was the first done in 2000,” said Public Relations Officer of COSCA, Dr J. Christian Anderson.

“Shania became a prime candidate as she suffered a stroke early in her life. These opportunities are extremely rare and we of COSCA are extremely grateful for the generosity afforded the hospital,” he added.

Sickle-cell disease is a general term for a group of genetic disorders caused by sickle hemoglobin (the component of red blood cells that carries oxygen). In many forms of the disease, the red blood cells change shape and may resemble a banana shape because of a lack of oxygen. As a result the red blood cell membrane is damaged and can cause the cells to become stuck in blood vessels. This deprives the downstream tissues of oxygen and causes ischemia (deprivation of oxygen in a tissue or organ such as heart, brain, kidney, or foot for example) and infarction (death of cells or tissue due to insufficient blood supply).

Lifespan is often shortened with sufferers living to an average of 40 years. Sickle-cell disease can occur in any individual of any color or ethnicity.