Alabama man cured of sickle cell disease

It’s a being called a miracle. Stem cell research that one man says cured him of the highly painful sickle cell anemia.

It’s a major breakthrough in the medical field: stem cell gene therapy.

According to the Center for Disease Control, sickle cell is a disease about 100,000 Americans live with.  It’s a group of genetic disorders that caused red blood cells to become hard and sticky, taking on the form of a sickle.

Holmes underwent gene therapy at the National Institute of Health in Maryland successfully and he says it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

“It was just surviving. It wasn’t living. It was just doing what I could to stay alive.” Lynndrick Holmes is talking about living with sickle cell anemia. “I was going to Bishop State to become an electrician. During finals week, I ended up hospitalized for about two weeks. It was just like the last straw kind of thing.”

It’s been 29 years and he says the disease cost him everything from relationships, employment opportunities, even his education. “I couldn’t get the professors to work with me. I lost my job at the time. I was really just looking for hope when I was doing my research so I could see what was out there to give me another reason to keep trying.”

Holmes volunteered for a clinical trial at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, a decision he says would change his life forever. “They gave me a drug that released my stem cells through my bloodstream and they collected it through an apheresis machine.  Once I got that, they would take it back to the lab, modify the gene that produces SS remodified to AA and then they put it into this HIV vector. So like the virus but they take out the virus. It’s like a vehicle. Just imagine taking out the bad passengers, put in the new passengers. I would say two or three weeks after the chemo and my cells die down, that’s when they gave me the transplant and they gave me my new cells. We just played the waiting game. We just waited until those new cells grafted its way into my bone marrow and waited to see the cells reappear.”

Lynndrick’s wife, Dominique, was pregnant twice during his journey and says she is so thankful her husband is feeling like himself. “He went from being in the hospital once a month to every other month with the sickle cell crisis to now never having to go to the hospital. It’s been a 180.”

Holmes officially received his transplant in December 2018. He’s still part of the trial and remains in remission.

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