Bay Area Girl Is a Sickle Cell Success Story - NBC Bay Area

Bay Area Girl Is a Sickle Cell Success Story

See how her little brother helped save her life.



    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012)

    Just days after Lucky Mulumba gave birth to her first child Carol, she learned her baby had sickle cell anemia.

    "Doctors said she had the most severe type and they told me she would have a hard life. Some doctors told me she would not live past ten years,” said Lucky Mulumba. Two years later she learned she was pregnant with her second child Mark. Her doctor suggested she bank his umbilical cord blood in the event one day it might be used to help Carol.

    Cord Blood Registry, based in San Bruno, paid for Mark’s cord blood to be stored and saved as part of a free program called "Newborn Possibilities."

    Meanwhile Carol, now ten years old, struggled through daily pain as her condition worsened.  She was so sick she couldn’t attend school. "The pain in my head was like a punch, the pain in my stomach was like a kick, the pain in my heart was like a squeeze," said Carol Mulumba.

    When she was six she started to have small strokes and doctors warned she could die from one.

    That’s when Carol underwent a stem cell transplant using cells from her brother Mark’s banked cord blood. The procedure worked.

    Carol was cured of sickle cell anemia and has been disease free for three years. She now enjoys school, playing outdoors and the taste of food.  She even traveled to Washington D.C. where she talked with President Obama about her treatment.

    "Now I feel great. I have no pain and I don’t have to visit the doctor all the time," said Carol. 

    Her mom calls the procedure "more than a miracle.”

    Carol is not the only patient benefiting from cord blood.

    “These types of stem cells in umbilical cords are used to treat 80 different diseases including some blood cancers, immune disorders and anemias," said Kate Brown, Ph.D. who is a content scientist with Cord Blood Registry.

    She says the registry has banked 400,000 samples worldwide from umbilical cords.