Ollie Green: thumbs up
An unrelated donor turned out to be a ‘perfect match’ for local sickle cell patient.
For the past 11 years, Ollie Green of New Iberia has had to worry about debilitating pain attacking his body at a moment’s notice. But soon, his pain may go away forever. On Feb. 24, Ollie underwent a bone marrow transplant in hopes of curing his sickle cell disease. It was the first time Children’s Hospital of New Orleans performed a BMT from an unrelated donor for a sickle cell patient.
As he prepared for the transplant, similar to a blood transfusion, Ollie described his feelings as akin to jitters before a football game. “I’m a little nervous,” he said, “but really excited.”
Ollie’s first memory of dealing with sickle cell disease was when he was 5 years old. “I missed my mom’s birthday,” says the 16-year-old. “Then I missed Mother’s Day and my birthday. I missed everything because I was in the hospital.”
Sickle cell is an inherited disease in which normal, disc-shaped red blood cells, which take blood to every part of the body, change into fragile crescent moons that resemble a sickle, a curved blade used to cut crops like wheat. Sickled cells often break into pieces, get caught in and block blood flow, causing severe pain crises and potential damage to organs, muscles and bones. In addition to bouts of pain — which may last for hours or for days — in the hands, feet, belly, back or chest, it can lead to infections, anemia and stroke. People with sickle cell disease often have anemia, caused by a shortage of red blood cells, which makes them weak and tired. The only physical sign might be a pale or washed out look and the whites of their eyes may have a yellow look of jaundice.
Ollie’s crises occurred as often as four times a month with pain so bad he would be hospitalized for two weeks at a time. It has caused him to miss school and the activities most youngsters take for granted. “There’s nothing I can do to ease his pain,” says Tanya Green, Ollie’s mother. “It’s so stressful and frustrating, being his mother and not being able to do anything. He’s had dose after dose of morphine to deal with the pain. It doesn’t take it away, but helps him cope. This bone marrow transplant is really going to make a life difference for us.”
For the past several years, Ollie has endured an eight-hour blood transfusion every 21 days to manage the effects of his disease. Within the next 14 to 28 days, doctors will be able to tell if the transplant was a success.
The hope is that the transplant “will take care of all of the pain he has,” says Dr. Lolie Yu, director of Children’s Hospital’s Hematology/Oncology department, bone marrow transplant program director and professor of pediatrics at LSU Health Sciences Center – New Orleans. “It’s unfortunate that some sickle cell patients suffer through this as much as he has, but he’s got a very positive attitude and tremendous support from his mom and dad. We’re all praying and wishing him the best.”
Yu says Ollie’s transplant is rare because sickle cell patients often have difficulty finding a donor whose blood marrow matches. “There have been around 20 sickle cell patients in the United States who have undergone this procedure with an unrelated donor,” she says. “This transplant is riskier than with related donors, but we’ve found a perfect match. And, hopefully, Ollie will soon be on his way to living life like a teenager.”
In the past, sickle cell patients often died from organ failure between 20 and 40 years old, but with better understanding and management of the disease, today patients can live into their 50s or beyond. Recent medical research has found that bone marrow or stem cell transplants can cure sickle cell anemia. However, transplants are not an option for most patients because of the difficulty in finding well-matched donors.
Ollie was admitted to Children’s Hospital Feb. 15 and will stay there while he recovers from the transplant. Because his associated radiation/chemotherapy treatment will reduce his ability to fight infection, he has been in isolation. To help him keep in touch with friends and family in New Iberia, Ollie’s parents bought him a mobile phone with face-to-face messaging. “It’s going to be tough to be in New Orleans and not be part of Carnival,” Ollie said as he entered the hospital, “but I’m looking forward to being finished with sickle cell and being able to play.”
Coton de tulear joins Westminster; Paypal splitting from Ebay; first US Ebola diagnosis and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 1, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
A constellation of South Louisiana musical stars descends on Parc Sans Souci to honor an ailing David Egan.
INDStyle Awards 2014 was one for the books; the American Cancer Society took over The Victorian's big tent; and the battle of the sexes was alive and well for Walk a Runway's Christmas fundraiser.
The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra teams up with choreographer Clare Cook for a modern take on a Stravinsky classic.
Local food pantries begin seasonal drives
A girl's best fashion friend
Stage 4 vet takes on cancer and reminds us all what it really means to get involved.
Creative living flourishes at Downtown’s artist hub
Four bedroom cottage or four bedroom traditional
Bold looks for fall define INDStyle Awards 2014
Statement pieces for the season
The gents venture out
Project Front Yard has been launched to help us change our image and our habits.
Alleged victim is a Navy vet with brain trauma resulting from a car accident three decades ago.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Richard Buswell was sentenced Tuesday to more than 10 years in prison for his role in an investment scheme that defrauded his clients of more than $6 million.
The Latin Music Festival returns to Parc International this Saturday, Oct. 4, from noon to 10 p.m.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Citizens, you have less than a week to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election. Remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the outcome. Well, you can but it’s kind of hypocritical.
After being forced out by its former landlords last year, the community garden has a new location and a 10-year lease.
The party says it has hit a milestone, reaching 10,000 registered voters in the state.
Defensive captain Junior Galette is disgusted by the Saints' sluggish start.
The use of $60 million in Louisiana's public school financing formula to pay for nearly three dozen charter schools violates the state constitution, a statewide teachers' union claimed Monday in a lawsuit.
Lafayette Regional seeking new leadership after longtime director Greg Roberts’ June resignation.
February trial date indicates parties were unable to negotiate a settlement.
T&T show behind the scenes