Meet Srinivas, Vicky, and Barbara. They are the latest Lifeline Project participants to be profiled in our ongoing series highlighting the needs of transplant patients.
Srinivas was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in February of 2010. Since he began treatment he has had numerous life threatening complications; septic shock, bile peritonitis, lung infection, kidney failure, cerebral edema, and subsequent gangrene in both of his legs. Unfortunately, one of his wounds was not healing fast enough in order for him to move forward with a potentially life-saving cord blood transplant and he had to make the painful decision to amputate his right leg below the knee. Srinivas is now moving forward with treatment and is determined to be cured of his cancer.
Vicky was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma in April of 2005. She underwent a stem cell transplant in May of 2007, and after a recurrence, she underwent a bone marrow transplant in October of 2009. She is currently undergoing treatment again in order to go back into remission. Unfortunately she lives 90 miles from the treatment center and is having difficulty affording transportation. Vicky will be grateful for any assistance during this time.
Four years ago, Barbara was diagnosed with myeloproliferative disorder. Since then many tests were conducted to determine her best course of treatment, which was decided to be a bone marrow transplant. Barbara relocated to a different state away from her family in order to undergo the procedure. Due to an infection, her transplant was put on hold, as she needed to have her spleen removed. Doctors then discovered that her white blood count had increased and her original diagnosis was wrong, Barbara had leukemia. She now must remain out of state while awaiting further testing and treatment.
To help these or any of the Lifeline Project participants, click here.
Now that the 2012 Summer Olympics have closed, the focus turns to the 2014 Winter Games – especially for Seun Adebiyi. The 29-year-old is training to compete in skeleton, a sport involving racing on a small sled down a frozen track, on behalf of his native country Nigeria. An impressive feat in its own right, Suen’s story includes a few hurdles that have altered his plans and given him additional goals.
Seun has had dreams of the Olympics since he was a child. As a part of the Nigerian Swim Team, he missed the 2004 Olympics by one-tenth of one second. A few years later, while a law student at Yale, Seun discovered the sport of skeleton and a new Olympic dream was born: to become Nigeria’s first competitor in the Winter Olympics. He started training for the 2010 Games.
In 2009, just after graduating from Yale Law School, Seun learned he had two rare and aggressive blood cancers: lymphoblastic lymphoma and stem cell leukemia. His doctors told him that he needed a stem cell transplant in order to survive, but unfortunately, a matching donor could not be found in the national registry. The most viable matches are generally found within a patient’s own ethnic group, so Seun’s Nigerian heritage and the shortage of African American’s in the national registry combined to work against him.
Putting his skeleton training on hold, Seun became an advocate for cancer patients of African descent, raising awareness of the need for more bone marrow donors. He worked with the South African registry to organize a donor drive in Nigeria. Shortly before he was to leave for Africa, Seun learned that a match for him using cord blood had been identified in the United States. Although Seun was no longer searching match, he put his own health at risk by proceeding with the trip in order to raise awareness and register potential donors for other patients in need.
Seun had to watch the 2010 Winter Olympics from his hospital bed, but the cord blood transplant was a success. His experience made him more determined to reach the 2014 Games and to take action to help other African and African American patients searching for bone marrow matches. He has organized the first Nigerian bone marrow registry (only the second registry in all of Africa) and he is working to establish a cord blood bank there as well. He also continues to race down a chute of ice at speeds around 80 mph as he pursues his Olympic skeleton dreams. As Seun put it, “I’ve already had cancer, what’s the worst that could happen?”
For more information about becoming a bone marrow donor, click here.
Learn more about Seun and his efforts:
- July 2012 interview on NPR – “Olympic Hopeful Works To Improve Bone Marrow Registries“
- May 2012 New York Times article – “Finding a Match, and a Mission: Helping Blacks Survive Cancer“
- November 2010 ESPN profile – “E:60 Skeleton Man” or watch it below.
In honor of Father’s Day, meet some fathers and grandfathers who are bone marrow, stem cell, or cord blood transplant patients. They are all dedicated to their families, but due to treatment, they are experiencing difficulty supporting their families and themselves.
Carl was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in 2009. Since then he has spent much time in and out of the hospital. Carl needed to spend months away from his family in order to undergo a bone marrow transplant. The family felt blessed when they learned Carl’s sister was a perfect match, but they have been devastated by the lengthy treatment and the continued medical complications Carl is dealing with. They are in need of financial assistance with travel and medical expenses that are not covered by their insurance.
Tim was first diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in 2003 and was on chemotherapy for nine years. He eventually became resistant to it and would need a bone marrow transplant. Tim’s brother was a 100% match and he underwent the transplant this past Valentine’s Day. Tim and his wife of over 26 years have struggled with cancer costs for almost a decade. Medical bills, travel expenses, and lodging near the medical center have placed a financial burden on the family. Please support Tim and his family, so he can focus on returning to his music career, promoting western events, song writing, and spending time with his first grandson.
Christopher was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), a group of blood and bone marrow disorders, and he underwent a cord blood transplant in June. His wife accompanied him to the transplant center to be his caregiver, while their three children remained at home. Although Christopher’s diagnosis and treatment have changed his life, he is very grateful because he feels like it could have been much worse. In order to sustain his family during this time, Christopher needs assistance with living expenses.
Stuart, a 48 year old husband and father of three, was diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) in August of 2010. After several medical complications and four months in the hospital, Stuart received a bone marrow transplant in May of 2011. He has at least another year before he will be able to return to work, which is causing serious financial strain on the family. They are in need of help with their daily living expenses.
To help these or any of the Lifeline Project participants, click here.