Donor found for young sickle cell patient

By Diane Walker - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A 12 year old boy, is just weeks away from a life changing transplant. He has sickle cell, a painful blood disease. Thanks to many of you, the turnout for a bone marrow drive was phenomenal.

People traveled from as far away as Alexandria, Manassas, and McKenny. Now, we're told, two matches have been found.

It's set for June and doctors have identified two perfectly matched donors. That means, Nile Price also has a backup donor, should something go wrong. It's awesome, how it came about.

Nile's mother, asked NBC12 On Your Side for help, changing how people think about donating bone marrow. We showed how easy it is to be a donor, with Nile's help, and people responded.

"They saw a child in need," said Nile Price.

Those who gave their DNA gave Nile, and others with sickle cell anemia, hope. He and his family were supported by friends and complete strangers, committed to giving Nile a better life. The bone marrow transplant will stop the pain.

"I still cry sometimes at night but, I'm like, soon it will be over and I won't have to worry about it anymore," said Nile.

He's lived life from the sidelines and cried enough, through too many pain episodes. The 7th grader's calm but urgent message resonated with viewers.

In minority communities, there are more patients than donors. Donors of the same race and ethnicity are desperately needed, for Asian, Hispanic, Indian and African American patients. So, it's obvious why Nile's mom is thrilled.

"It will take away the pain. It will alter what has happened in his body with him constantly generating the sickled cells. He won't have that anymore," said Deborah Price.

Nile has been hospitalized three times, since March. He studies at home now until the June transplant date. Meantime, his mom, is focused fundraising through bake sales to pay for medicines, doctors' visits and to put funding in the hands of researchers.

She hopes, for something better, by the time Olivia, who also has sickle cell, starts the pain crisis.

"Stop it in its tracks when they are young, so we don't have to worry about every moment. 'Is my child going to have a stroke today?', 'Is my child going to need a hip replacement when they turn 10.'" said Deborah.

Still, the family is glad they called 12 and grateful for the turnout.

"I would like to say thank you a lot cause ya'll really helped and now the public is getting aware of sickle cell and seeing how they can help other kids with sickle cell," said Nile.

Nile knows exactly what will happen, in June. He's very involved in his own care and, he says he's not afraid. The donor marrow will be transfused through a catheter, in his chest. It should take about 40 minutes. We'll keep you updated.

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