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New hope for some young sickle cell disease patients

Tyrell Cable. (Submitted photo)
Tyrell Cable. (Submitted photo)
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There's new hope for some young sickle cell disease patients.

"There's one treatment specifically that I'm a big proponent of called hydroxyurea. It's a medication that you take once a day," said Dr. Patrick McGann, the new director of the Pediatric and Adult Sickle Cell and Hemoglobinopathy Program.

And 10-year-old Tyrell Cable will soon be a beneficiary.

Even before he was home, his parents knew he'd have sickle cell. Mom had the disease. Dad, the sickle cell trait.

"It started affecting him before the age of one. His fingers and toes started swelling up," recalled Tyrell Cable, Sr.

And then last year, his son had a type of stroke. His dad said it caused some brain swelling.

Now, he undergoes monthly blood transfusions, to which he said he's "sometimes scared."

But they've been necessary for Tyrell, helping prevent abnormally shaped cells that can become stiff and rip up his blood vessels, which causes excruciating pain.

Even further, organ damage.

"He had to have his spleen removed at the age of 5," said Cable.

These transfusions are helping to prevent these and other complications.

McGann said he has been involved in research studies trying to optimize the dose of hydroxyurea, which has a long track record.

"We have a study where every patient gets their own specific dose unique to their body. When we're using the right doses and start early in life, patients are basically symptom-free, no pain, hospitalizations, going to school, living a high quality of life," said McGann.

That's the next step for Tyrell Jr.

"They're trying to get it to the point where he doesn't have to do the transfusions anymore. Just the hydroxyurea should be good enough," said his dad.

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