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Medical Staff Operating On Patient


The story of Revée Agyepong’s victory over sickle cell anemia is very inspiring indeed. The 26-year-old from Edmonton, is among the first adults in Canada to be cured of the disease through stem cell transplant made possible by her sister’s loving support.

Ever since being diagnosed as a toddler, every organ in Revée’s body has been at risk, which is characteristic of the genetic disease. Essentially, red blood cells within a sickle cell anemia patient change into semi-circular or “sickle” shape and block blood vessels. Although symptoms vary from patient to patient, Revée experienced chronic bone and joint pain, irregular heartbeat, kidney stones and shortness of breath.  With declining health and only a few options left, Revée was reportedly devasted to be told that she was too old to undergo the stem cell transplant that was having success in pediatric patients. Apparently, the older the patient and donor in bone marrow transplants, the greater the risk of immune rejection between the graft and the host disease, which can lead to serious health problems and potentially result in death.

Nevertheless, Stephanie Amoah, was determined to find a solution to her younger sister, Revée’s, chronic health problem, and started researching the other centres that were testing the treatment on adult patients.

The sisters eventually approached Revée’s doctors about the treatment.  Her doctors said they coincidentally had been thinking about performing adult stem cell transplants for sickle cell disease.  It is significant that although the doctors said they were thinking of this process, it was the sisters who had to push to find a potential solution and approach the doctors about it.  The sisters’ persistence, dedication and obvious faith that a solution is possible led the doctors to agree to try the treatment.  One can only imagine the tremendous relief and elation they experienced when the doctors said that they would try it.

The next thing that happened is nothing short of wonderful: Stephanie was a 100% donor match for her sister, Revée! The odds of siblings being a perfect match are apparently one in four.

For the transplant process, Revée took drugs to weaken her immune system and also took low-dose radiation. Stephanie’s sickle-cell-free stem cells were then collected and given to Revée. In the months that followed, Stephanie’s bone marrow took over production of Revée’s red blood cells. Revée now has almost no sickle cell hemoglobin in her bloodstream.  Since Revée’s blood tests don’t show any signs of the disease, she is essentially cured!

The events leading up to Revée’s cure can be characterized in many ways—from factors that happened to line up together positively– to miraculous occurrences– to destiny fulfilled: Revée’s health was declining; they were almost out of options to improve her health; Stephanie persisted and researched; they heard about a treatment that was successful in children; they asked their doctors about the treatment; the doctors said they would try it; Stephanie was an exact match to be a donor; they underwent the transplant; and the disease has virtually been eliminated from Revée’s body!

Since being cured, Revée is said to be experiencing new life and new hope that she will eventually be able to do things that she has always wanted to do. She hopes to live like a normal person, including travelling and advocating for sickle cell disease.  It will be interesting to see how her victory will influence the way in which the disease is advocated on a broad scale. Her desire to do things like a normal person reminds us that we take many aspects of every day life for granted.

Revée Agyepong’s story significantly illustrates the power that lies in persistence motivating you to seek answers.  These sisters did what they could and, to the extent possible, took matters into their own hands.  They did their own independent research and essentially decided that it doesn’t hurt to request that the doctors try the treatment they had heard about.

If you have a glimmer of hope, anything is possible.  That hope and belief pushes you to seek and to ask…

Their story generates a sense of victory within sufferers of serious illnesses like Sickle Cell Anemia and also within those who feel great compassion regarding human suffering.  It draws tears of joy, relief, hope and passion…these sisters inspire us to exert purposed effort to live better lives.  We celebrate with you, Revée!


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