Author: Kris Rattini

Brother’s stem cells send Emma’s leukemia into remission

Emma and her brother, Alexander, following her stem cell transplant.

How do you repay someone who has given you the gift of life? Eight-year-old Emma Duffin of Enfield, Connecticut, started by giving a kiss and cuddle to her brother, Alexander, who donated his bone marrow stem cells to Emma to reboot her immune system and send her rare form of leukemia into remission.

Emma’s journey to a stem cell transplant began in April 2014, when her usual energetic demeanor began to change. “Emma was very vibrant, very active, and she did not like to rest,” says her father, Brian Duffin. But suddenly his go-go daughter was exhausted all the time. She was diagnosed with strep throat, then foot-and-mouth disease, but neither medication nor time brought any improvement.

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Innovative treatment for a large liver tumor saves Ziad

Young boy in hospital for liver tumor treatment
Ziad right before his second TACE procedure

Ziad Selbak was a pint-sized patient with a huge medical challenge. In March 2017, the two-year-old was diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), an aggressive form of liver cancer rare in young children.

But specialists at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center were ready to take on the challenge. They collaborated on an innovative application of transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) — an established treatment for adults — to deliver chemotherapy directly to Ziad’s large tumor and stabilize his condition with the ultimate goal of liver transplant.

It all started in February 2017, when Ziad took a tumble on a toy at his family’s home in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

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