“We wanted to offer Jeffrey the best chance for a healthy life,” said Dr. John Fort, Director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Program at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital, a division of the hospital’s Cancer Center. But, first, a bone marrow donor was needed.
Helping others is what police officers do best. So when officer husband-and-wife team Jeffrey and Lakeatha found themselves sidelined while their youngest son battled a devastating illness, their feelings of frustration were overwhelming.
“As a parent, it is just heartbreaking to have to watch your child be so sick and not be able to help,” said Jeffrey Sr., an officer with the Miami-Dade County Police Department.
Little Jeffrey, now 10, was born with sickle cell disease, a genetic disorder in which bone marrow produces defective hemoglobin that can block the blood supply to parts of the body, resulting in painful episodes and potentially debilitating strokes.
Many patients with sickle cell disease are able to manage the condition over a lifetime. But little Jeffrey was so severely impacted that he was hospitalized several times each year and was at high risk for strokes that could jeopardize his future. Sickle cell disease was once a lifetime sentence. But thanks to a relatively new procedure – a bone marrow transplant – a cure is a possibility for many children.
A match was not found among the immediate family, including Jeffrey’s half-brother, Marcel. While some patients can be matched with a donor from a tissue bank, the family decided first to see if a sibling might be the answer.
Happily, baby sister Jazmine, born in 2008, was a solid match. In 2009, Jeffrey underwent the bone marrow transplant procedure, which required him to be hospitalized at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital, for several months post procedure. Now it’s official! Jeffrey is cured of sickle cell disease and has rejoined his classmates.
Jeffrey's family have nothing but wonderful things to say about the doctors and staff at Nicklaus Children's Bone Marrow Transplant Program. “We wanted to be in a children’s hospital where the entire staff understood the special needs of children. The staff was amazing and did such a great job of making sure we understood everything that was happening. We are so glad we chose Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital,” said Jeffrey, Sr.