March 30, 2015

Cord blood banking is changing lives. Take Caesar Sant and his inspiring story for example It’s easy to see the impact cord blood banking can have on not only the patient, but on an entire family.

To say Caesar is a special boy, is quite the understatement. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find many adults who encompass all the talent and intellect of this young North Carolina child.

In addition to being fluent in seven languages, a talented martial arts student, and an advanced pupil in school, the 6-year-old is also an unbelievably gifted violin-playing prodigy. His exceptional music ability was discovered at age 2 shortly after he first began learning to read sheet music and play the violin. He quickly astonished his music teachers with his natural-born talents, performing stunning pieces well beyond his years by composers such as Antonio Vivaldi, Niccolò Paganini, and others.

But, Caesar’s incredible intellect and musical skills, it seemed, were not the only significant circumstances he was dealt at birth – he also has Sickle Cell Anemia. This genetic disease causes his oxygen-carrying red blood cells to be curved, or “sickle” shaped, instead of round. This causes painful blood flow obstructions and can lead to oxygen deprivation in tissues throughout the body. Life-long anemia treatments are not uncommon with this disease. Even if a person with Sickle Cell Anemia undergoes the frequent prophylactic blood transfusions and anemia treatments required to regulate the disease, which Caesar has, patients are still at constant risk of serious complications. This can include excruciating pain and prolonged organ damage, as well as one of the most severe of complications, a stroke.

Caesar has experienced three acute strokes over the past two years. Because each stroke brought with it increasing intensity and prolonged effects, his doctors recommended Caesar undergo a stem cell transplant, to try to cure his body of the disease. Continuing with just the anemia treatments would only deal with the symptoms of his disease but still leave him vulnerable for future episodes.

Although no matching bone marrow donor could immediately be found for a stem cells transplant, doctors had another solution – cord blood banking. Sickle Cell Anemia is one of the more than 80 diseases that can be treated or cured with umbilical cord blood banking. Thanks to procedures set in motion by his doctors last year and their knowledge of cord blood banking, Caesar will hopefully soon be on the path toward a healthy future…and a new baby sister has proven to be the key to this plan.

In December of 2014, the Sants welcomed a new baby girl, Helen, to the family. She was not only a healthy, welcome addition to the family, she was also the answer to their medical despair concerning Caesar. Baby Helen was conceived via in-vitro fertilization to ensure the disease was not passed on to her and her umbilical cord blood was preserved through cord blood banking at birth. The completely non-invasive cord blood banking procedure, optimistically, will prove to be a lifesaver and demonstrate the significance of sibling cord blood donations. Caesar and Helen are perfect genetic matches to each other and he is set to receive a transplant of her cord blood this summer after first undergoing preparatory procedures. For now though, owing to cord blood banking, her cord blood stem cells are being safely stored until doctors are certain Caesar’s body is ready to receive them.

If all goes as planned this summer, Caesar will soon be back to where he finds the most joy – on his violin, creating enchanting classical music. Most importantly, though, he’ll be pain-free while doing so.

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