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Edmonton (Alb), Apr 4 (Canadian-Media): An Alberta woman is the first adult in Canada to be cured of sickle cell anemia with stem cell transplant, media reports said.
Revée Agyepong, 26, of Edmonton, Alberta had reportedly been diagnosed with the disease as a toddler and experienced chronic bone and joint pain, irregular heartbeat, kidney stones and shortness of breath
"I remember as far back as elementary feeling sickle cell complications and not knowing what it was," she said.
"I thought that everyone would go out for recess and play, then come back with a terrible headache and body pain, couldn't breathe … eventually I realized it was just me."
Revée Agyepong/Courtesy of CBCNews
Sickle cell anemia is reportedly a genetic disease which changes red blood cells into a semi-circular shape and block blood vessels and puts every organ in the body at risk.
Agyepong had learnt about the success of the treatment in pediatric patients, but doctors told her she was too old to undergo the procedure.
According to Alberta Health Services, the older the patient and donor in bone marrow transplants, the greater the risk of graft versus host disease, which is a type of immune rejection that can have serious health repercussions and can even result in death.
Stephanie Amoah, Agyepong's older sister, did some research with other centres who were treating adult patients and then approached Agyepong's doctors and told them of the treatment going on in the east coast of the United States.
Dr. Andrew Daly, who leads Alberta's bone marrow transplant program and oversaw Agyepong's stem cell transplant, said they also had been thinking about treating adults.
Dr Andrew Daly/Facebook Page
After Amoah was tested and found to be a 100 percent match for her sister, Amoah underwent a process called apheresis that collected her sickle-cell-free stem cells, which were then given to Agyepong.
The transplant, which took place at Calgary's Tom Baker Cancer Centre turned out to be a success as Agyepong's blood tests did no show any signs of the disease.
Agyepong said after her full recovery, she plans to dedicate her time to advocating for the disease.
"I want to travel somewhere exotic and somewhere warm and feel dehydration like anyone else would, because I couldn't with sickle cell, I would be dehydrated and end up in the hospital," she said.
"It sounds so insignificant but it's really exciting just to be able to be more spontaneous."
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)