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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stem Cells and Crohn's Disease- Girl Cured?

I ran into this awesome article late last night, so I thought I would share it with you all. She is very brave. I hope her Crohn's stays away.

Kristina Gentry, a 16-year-old from Warner Robbins, has been doing nothing but hurt for the last year, as she has battled a painful chronic disorder called Crohn's disease. The teen underwent a radical medical treatment in hopes of getting her life back.

"I couldn't even get out of bed on some days, much less do school or function like I was supposed to or anything," said Gentry.

About two years ago, doctors at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egelston diagnosed Gentry with Crohn's disease. The condition is a painful, chronic disorder that causes the digestive tract to become inflamed and infected.

There is also a video below.




"She was sick a lot. She wasn't able to keep down her meals. We noticed she'd immediately run to the restroom, we heard her vomiting," said Gentry's mother, Shirley.

Kristina Gentry ended up in the hospital 11 times in just one year as her defective immune system mistakenly attacked the healthy bacteria lining her digestive tract.

The 16-year-old tried medication after medication, even experimental drugs, but nothing worked. At one point the teen couldn't even eat anymore.

Gentry's doctors recommended one last radical treatment option. If the Warner Robbins teen agreed, she would become the first pediatric patient at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, maybe the first in the entire country, to undergo a bone marrow transplant for Crohn's disease. Doctors wanted to use chemotherapy to wipe out Gentry's immune system, and then reboot it using her own stem cells.

Gentry researched the procedure on the internet, and wanted to do it.

"She was so excited. She was just ready to do it, could she check into the hospital next week? She was at that point, 'I just want to do something,'" said Shirley Gentry.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University Hospital pediatric gastroenterologist Sr. Subra Kugathansan said the teen had about a five percent chance of a life-threatening complication, but the Crohn's disease too was dangerous.

"We basically reset her immune system just like a newborn baby. Totally newborn baby," said Dr. Kugathansan.

In late December, Gentry's stem cells were extracted and then she was given high dose chemotherapy

"To kill every single cell that is circulating in her body. So, by doing so, her blood count we can measure in the blood came to zero," said Dr. Kugathansan.

"I was sick from the chemotherapy, but other than that I was in just isolation. They have the whole wing for the bone marrow transplant, you can't leave the wing, you have to wear a mask when you go outside of your room," said Gentry. "After that they gave me the cells back, and they took in and they started reproducing, so I pretty much had a new immune system without any Crohn's in it."

Now, Gentry shows no sign of Crohn's disease, but Dr. Kugathansan said the teen wasn't cured. "Right now, her Crohn's disease is in remission, complete remission," said Dr. Kugathansan.

"We've had a lot of people praying for me. That really helps," said Gentry.

Gentry has no guarantees, but she does have a chance at getting back to life

"Starting back with my music, starting back with my music lessons. [I'm] looking forward to going to college, getting a good job, growing up," Gentry said.




To view the article on the MyFox page, click here.

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