Cameron Dykstra was very ill when his parents brought him to the hospital. He had contracted pneumocystis pneumonia, but that wasn’t his only problem. Cameron’s body was unable to fight the sickness because he was born without an immune system. His doctors diagnosed him with severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome (SCID), a rare genetic disorder that affects the child’s lymphatic system. Without a stem cell transplant, most children with SCID die of infections before the age two.
Cameron needed treatment immediately, but he had no siblings to donate the stem cells for a transplant. In the past, stem cell donors had to be a genetic match for the transplants to be successful, but Cameron’s father, Rich, was only a “half” match. Luckily, revolutionary new techniques have made it possible for scientists at some institutions (like the University of Chicago) to purify the stem cells of parents (who are usually only half matches). The purification process significantly lowers the risk of the child rejecting the transplant or having other complications.
While the recovery was a bit rocky, Cameron was eventually stable enough to return home. Since his treatment, he has been hospitalized only once. His doctors say that his immune system is functioning normally, and the transplant was a success. Click here to read the full article about Cameron’s story, SCID treatment, and stem cells.