Topeka woman first adult to be cured of sickle cell disease in Kansas


TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)- For twenty years a Topeka woman lived a life full of pain.

Living with a rare disease she assumed there would never be a cure. That was until a year ago, when she found hope and a made history in the state of Kansas.

Desiree Ramirez was diagnosed with sickle cell disease when she was around three years old. Sickle cell is a disease that causes blood to clog in the tiny vessels and organs of the body, “It’s terrible,” Ramirez said. “You’re in an out of the hospital, you’re in and out of emergency rooms you always have doctors visits. You feel really tired you’re in a lot of pain.”

Looking for a way to permanently get rid of her pain, 23-year-old Ramirez went to get treatment at the University of Kansas Cancer Center. Where doctors prescribed a procedure no other adult in Kansas has ever done. Undergo a bone marrow transplant to fight sickle cell disease. “If this transplant is successful and we hope it will be, then it can cure the disease long term,”  Doctor Sunil Abhyankar, a blood and marrow  transplant physician at The University of Kansas Cancer Center said.

The transplant uses her body’s own stem cells to fight the disease, and it worked. Just 100 days after her transplant she already noticed a huge difference “‘I’ve come a long pretty good you know, I haven’t had any major complications, no infections nothing.” Ramirez said. “I haven’t had to be admitted to the hospital or anything since.”

It’s now been a year since the transplant and Ramirez is cured of sickle cell disease. The now 24-year-old is ready to make the most of this new life she has that’s pain free, “I mean I haven’t gotten to do a lot of things during this process really for a couple of years, because I had you know hip issues and other things going on with sickle cell,” she said. “So I’m excited, as soon I’m able to do things, I’m going to do them.”

In sharing her story Ramirez wanted to spread awareness and encourage people to get tested to be a bone marrow donor to help people looking for a cure like her. If you’re interested in getting tested to see if you’re a match for someone, click here.

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