Girl Goes Home a Month After Transplant From Baby Conceived To Save Her
CLEVELAND (AP) _ Someday, Christy Schwartz may tell her little sister how as a baby she saved Christy’s life.
Christy, 5, went home from a hospital today, about a month after a transplant of cells from baby Angelina’s umbilical cord, aimed at curing Christy’s leukemia. Angelina was conceived to give her sister a chance at life.
Christy wore a surgical mask to prevent exposure to germs as she left Rainbow Babies’ and Children’s Hospital. She was wheeled out of the hospital elevator by her father, Dr. Randy Schwartz. Her mother, Jill, walked alongside.
``So far, so good. She’s still very fragile,″ said Mrs. Schwartz.
Doctors remain cautious about whether Christy has been cured, saying it will be years before they know for sure. Dr. Susan Shurin did say the transplant was ``very successful,″ with the only complication so far a skin rash related to the transplant.
Christy was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 11 months old. Angelina, the Schwartz family’s fourth child, was born in November. The couple decided to conceive her after learning that no family member’s bone marrow matched Christy’s, and that no suitable donor could be found in the National Bone Marrow Registry.
There was only a one-in-four chance Angelina’s marrow would match Christy’s. A test 16 weeks into Mrs. Schwartz’s pregnancy confirmed they had a match.
Christy received high doses of chemotherapy, aimed at killing diseased cells, prior to the transplant on April 6. She received stem cells that were extracted from Angelina’s umbilical cord, which is cut away at birth. Stem cells are a component of bone marrow that create new blood cells.
The cells had been frozen after Angelina’s birth because Christy was not yet healthy enough to receive the transplant.
Shurin said Christy’s recuperation would be faster at home because she would eat better and have a better opportunity for exercise.
The couple got the idea after Mrs. Schwartz read about the Ayala family of San Bernardino, Calif., whose teen-age daughter, Anissa, had leukemia. In 1991, Anissa received bone marrow from her baby sister, Marissa, who was conceived to provide a match. That transplant was successful.