Many breakthroughs took place in the history of medical science especially the miracles being done by stem cells. From all these here is one miracle which will touch the hearts of masses makes people believe that nothing is impossible to achieve in the present scenario.
Here is the story of 15-year-old Laura Margaret Burbach toting oxygen and appearing wan – scary on a 4-foot, 5-inch teenager who weighed less than 60 pounds. Laura Margaret’s lungs were shot. Because of repeated infections and her faulty immune system, her lungs were no longer capable of keeping her alive. Laura was being diagnosed when she was 6 months old.
Arriving at Duke last June, the Burbachs family- David, Sarah and Laura Margaret – were supposed to initiate the process of getting Laura Margaret a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. It was a risky but fairly common procedure. With her respiratory system in such bad shape, however, Laura Margaret also needed new lungs which mean she requires double transplantation. The double transplant had never been undertaken, or at least never chronicled in medical literature. But without providing both transplants, Laura Margaret would die. The doctors have no other alternative available except this.
“I really think it was her only chance,” said Dr. David Zaas, her pulmonologist. Eager to save Laura Margaret, they might inch medicine ahead by setting the foundation for a new approach that could help many others.
Laura was among the best of the chaps as at Morgan County High School, she was a member of the student council and became a cheerleader – one of the featherweight girls at the top of pyramids who gets somersaulted into the air. She had sleepovers, got her learner’s permit to drive, and excelled in school with challenging Advanced Placement classes.
But her achievements were made in spite of endless infections that took a huge toll. Her lungs, in particular, bore the brunt.
“It was just another facet of our lives,” Laura Margaret said. “Most people wake up and take a shower and go to school. I would wake up and run IVs, and do my breathing treatment and then shower and go to school.”
After the proper evaluation the doctors develop a new idea which is transplanting new lungs to solve her immediate problems, and new marrow to correct the underlying flaws of her immune system.
As per the doctors the combination would protect Laura Margaret against the main reason transplants fail: rejection, which occurs when the recipient’s immune system attacks the new organ as a foreign invader. If Laura Margaret’s new immune system came from the same donor as the lungs, it would have no cause to attack.
“The idea that we might be able to essentially create an immune system that wouldn’t react against the organ is something of the Holy Grail that we all hope to achieve,” said Dr. R. Duane Davis, her lung transplant surgeon.
They wanted to use the lungs and marrow of an unrelated deceased donor, and do two full transplants weeks apart.
Laura Margaret had been on the transplant list less than one week when the call came that she was a match for lungs and marrow from a deceased donor.
On Dec. 16 Davis along with his team of experts performed the lung transplant. Twenty-four hours later, everybody saw her walking out of bed and the results were amazing.
“Almost immediately I noticed a difference,” she said.
On Dec. 23, she was discharged, and began preparing for her bone marrow transplant. As the day approached, she was given chemotherapy and a shot of radiation to wipe out her deficient immune cells. Then on April 2, the healthy bone marrow cells of a person who died in December began flowing from an IV line into Laura Margaret’s veins.
The experts called her recovery remarkable. Wearing a festive top hat and a surgical mask that revealed only her eyes, Laura Margaret emerged from her hospital room into the hall of the bone marrow transplant unit where she had lived for nearly a month. Nurses, doctors, technicians, fellow patients and their families lined the hall and showered her with pink confetti to celebrate her discharge. As the other young patients watched, Laura Margaret fought sobs.”I can’t believe this is happening,” she cried. “I was diagnosed when I was 6 months old, and I’m now 16, and I don’t have immune deficiency syndrome anymore!”