DHS student cured of fatal diseases

Doctors are calling it a medical miracle

Michelle Stuckey
September 23, 2011 at 9:29 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

DHS student cured of fatal diseases
Madison Tully is living a typical teenage life. The 17-year-old is a senior at Destrehan High School and looks forward to going to beauty school next year. But just one year ago, Madison was fighting for her life against two rare and life-threatening diseases.

After being diagnosed with both sickle cell disease and lupus last spring, Madison went through an intense round of chemotherapy and drug regiments that caused her to lose her hair and gain 30 pounds. She was one of only 12 people in the world to be diagnosed with both diseases simultaneously, according to her father. Even before the treatment, Madison was constantly in pain.

Now doctors say that a bone marrow transplant from her birth sister has cured her of both diseases.

“I have literally never felt so good in my life,” Madison said. “It’s weird - I never thought this would happen.”

Her parents and doctors were also unsure of whether she would ever get better.

“Madison was very sick when she headed into the transplant,” said Dr. Julie Kanter, Director of the Sickle Cell Center of Southern Louisiana. “She was a very high-risk transplant. I wasn’t surprised that it worked, but I was very relieved.”

Kanter said that doctors could tell the transplant was working after 30 days. There is no mention in medical literature that a bone marrow transplant has ever successfully cured both sickle cell and lupus, but Kanter plans to publish Madison’s case soon.

“We are submitting this for publication - hopefully patients who have a combination of a rheumatologic condition (like lupus) in conjunction with sickle cell disease will be considered for a bone marrow transplant to increase their length of life and quality of life,” Kanter said.

Madison’s family said that medical treatment is not the only thing that brought them all through this trying time.

“At the time…we didn’t know if Madison was going to live or die,” said Jeff Tully, Madison’s father. “They’re calling it a medical miracle, but we know it was a miracle -the hand of God was in this without question.

“We’re ecstatic, words can’t describe it…it’s incredible, she’s totally back to normal.”

For now, Madison is having regular check-ups once a month to make sure the two illnesses are gone. After five years, Kanter said that Madison will likely be considered in “full remission.”

Madison said she is glad that she can return to school and be with friends.

“I learned to be grateful for what I have, the friends I have and the people who support me and stayed by me,” she said.

She is especially glad for her birth sister, who supported her in a big way when she needed it most.

Because Madison was so sick, doctors said that the bone marrow transplant had to be from a donor that matched her perfectly - like a family member - to avoid complications. But that option was nearly impossible because she was adopted. Doctors were skeptical that even a sibling would be a perfect transplant match because her biological parents were of mixed race. But in August of last year, Madison’s birth sister, Jasmin Thomas, 17, stepped up to undergo the painful bone marrow donations that would save Madison’s life. She turned out to be a perfect match.

View other articles written Michelle Stuckey

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