Transplant offers family a second chance

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Valentina DeLeon was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID) at nine months old (left photo) and received a bone marrow umbilical cord transplant from the Texas Cord Blood Bank. Today, she is a healthy 7 year-old child (right photo) and to celebrate Mother’s Day, Edna Karina could not be happier that her daughter got a second chance at life. (Courtesy photos)

This Mother’s Day, mother Edna Karina counts her blessings because she received the greatest gift a mother could—a second chance at life for her daughter Valentina.

When Valentina was born in McAllen, Texas, she was a very healthy baby. However, when Edna stopped breast-feeding her at five months, she noticed something was not right with her baby as she saw signs of weakness as well as a low-grade fever.

“I couldn’t breastfeed anymore, so she started having problems. We went to several specialists, and they told us that we needed to find the right [milk] formula for her, so we went from soy formula to several different formulas, but it was more than that,” Edna told La Prensa.

After more tests and a visit to the emergency room, Valentina had to fly to San Antonio because her condition grew worse as she was losing weight, and her lungs were slowly starting to fail. With these conditions arising, Edna finally received an answer about her daughter’s condition: Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID), putting Valentina at a 30 percent chance of surviving.

SCID is a rare genetic disorder characterized by the disturbed development of functional T cells and B cells caused by numerous genetic mutations. Both B and T cells of the adaptive immune system are impaired due to a defect in one of the several possible genes. It is estimated that 40-100 infants are diagnosed with SCID each year in the United States, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute.

But thanks to a bone marrow umbilical cord transplant from the Texas Cord Blood Bank, Valentina will celebrate her seventh birthday this month. Cord blood, like marrow, is rich in blood-forming cells that can be used in transplants for patients with leukemia, lymphoma and many other diseases. Still, too few mothers know about this free, painless opportunity to save lives.

“It’s really simple and noninvasive and causes no harm to babies,” expounded Julie Vera, GenCure spokesperson. “After the mom has given birth to her baby, the nurse will collect the birth tissue and the umbilical cord blood, which is considered medical waste, after the baby is born. Once the mom signs [compliance forms], she can save the life of another child.”

A new mother’s decision to publicly donate her baby’s cord blood saved Valentina’s life. Today, Valentina is a healthy child who is in an honor student that enjoys karate, cheerleading and gymnastics. One day, Valentina hopes to be a teacher just like her mother.

Edna wants to thank all those families who have donated their newborn’s cord blood. She hopes Valentina’s story will inspire other expecting mothers to also donate this precious source of potentially life-saving stem cells.

“I’m just thankful that God answered my prayers to allow my daughter to live a healthy life. I know that [Valentina] is a miracle,” concluded Edna.

Texas Cord Blood Bank is located at 6211 I-10 W. and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit gencure.org or call (210) 731-5555. Information is also available in Spanish.

 

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