Decatur elementary student gets stem cells from mother – The Decatur Daily

By Sykes24Tracey

A Decatur elementary student and her mother are recovering following a stem cell transplant in a Cincinnati-area hospital.

It will be six to eight weeks, however, before doctors know whether the membrane Nicole Richey gave her daughter Phoenix is working.

What were praying for is that Phoenix will start producing her own stem cells, Joey Richey said by telephone Thursday.

In January, Phoenix, a fourth-grade student at Chestnut Grove Elementary, was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnsons syndrome, a rare and serious disorder of the skins mucous membranes.

According to the Mayor Clinic, the syndrome is caused by a reaction to medication or infection and begins with flu-like symptoms, which Phoenix had. The disease is followed by painful rashes and blisters that ultimately cause the top layer of skin to die.

The disease affected between 60 and 65 percent of Phoenixs body and damaged her eyes.

During the outpatient procedure, which is called a limbal stem cell transplant, said Joey Richey, surgeons took about 40 percent of the cornea from his wifes left eye and placed it in Phoenixs right eye.

Nicole Richey said she was close to a perfect match, but doctors have put her daughter on immunosuppression therapy to lower the possibility of Phoenix rejecting the stem cells.

I am still having a hard time after my surgery, but were OK, Nicole Richey said.

The procedure took place at St. Elizabeth North Kentucky Surgical Center, and Phoenix will miss about six weeks of school.

Chestnut Grove Principal Luke Bergeson said Phoenix will continue to receive homebound instructional services until she is ready to return to school.

Phoenixs body is still not able to grow its own skin, so she has been fitted with a prokera ring, which is a therapeutic device to protect her eyes. Her left eye is temporarily sewn shut and will be until doctors see how the right eye reacts to the transplant, Joey Richey said.

They are working on one eye at a time, he said.

Phoenix was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnsons syndrome while she was out of school on Christmas break last year. The outer layer of skin started to die and was peeling two days before she was admitted to Huntsville Hospital. On Jan. 12, doctors transferred Phoenix to the burn unit at Childrens Hospital of Birmingham for treatment.

She stayed there a week before being moved to Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati, where she stayed until Feb. 8.

Phoenix missed the remainder of the school term, but she came back to Chestnut Grove when classes started in August.

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Decatur elementary student gets stem cells from mother - The Decatur Daily

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