Medical Minute 12-5: Double Cure for Lupus and Sickle Cell Disease

By: Andrew McIntosh Email
By: Andrew McIntosh Email

Madison Tully was born with sickle cell, then a few years ago-she was diagnosed with lupus.

"As dad, you want to fix everything and I couldn't fix it," said Jeff Tully, Madison's Father.

He couldn't but something did. Today Madison is cured from not one-but two deadly diseases.

This 16 year old had few options for recovery, including a risky bone marrow transplant-rarely done for sickle cell patients and not an option for most lupus sufferers.

"It's very rare to have a match for anyone with sickle cell."

There was another obstacle, Madison needed a perfect bone marrow match- but Madison was adopted. Luckily- she made contact with her biological sister. She said yes-and Tulane University's Doctor Julie Kanter tried the first documented case of using a bone marrow transplant to rid Madison of both diseases. There was an 85 percent chance of a cure-but… a 25 percent risk of death.

"This was not a way she wanted to live."

After a month of chemotherapy…then immuno-therapy-the transplant was done.

"It took five months after the transplant to actually feel it," said Madison Tully, Had Sickle Cell & Lupus.

A year later-Madison is cured!

"She has no evidence of either in her body."

Now… her dad has other things to worry about.

"Not the graduating, not the driving, it's the male species, that may be my biggest fear right now."

For more information on other series produced by Ivanhoe Broadcast News contact John Cherry at (407) 691-1500,


BACKGROUND: Sickle cell disease changes normal, round red blood cells into cells that can be shaped like crescent moons. The name comes from the crescent shape of the cells. A sickle is a farm tool with a curved blade that can cut crops like wheat. Normal red blood cells move easily through the blood vessels, taking oxygen to every part of the body. Sickle cells can get stuck and block blood vessels which stops the oxygen from getting through. This can cause pain and harm to organs, muscles and organs. Patients are diagnosed with the disease with a simple blood test. Aside from causing pain, the disease can also lead to anemia, stroke and infections. (

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when the body's immune system attacks the body's tissue and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect different body systems such as the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs. Some people are born with a tendency toward developing lupus, which may be triggered by infections, certain drugs or even sunlight. While there's no cure for lupus, treatments can help control symptoms. (

SYMPTOMS: Pain is the most common system in individuals with sickle cell disease. The sickled cells get stuck in the blood vessels and block the blood flow causing pain in the hands, feet, belly, back or chest. This pain can last up to hours or even days. People with sickle cell disease often have anemia, caused by a shortage of red blood cells. This causes the individual to be weak or tired and may even look pale or washed out. (

The most common signs of lupus include: fatigue and fever, joint pain, stiffness and swelling, butterfly shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose, skin lesions, shortness of breath, chest pain, dry eyes, headaches, confusion and memory loss. (

BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT: Bone marrow transplant is a procedure to replace damaged or destroyed bone marrow with healthy bone marrow stem cells. Bone marrow is a soft, fatty tissue inside the bones. Stem cells are immature cells in the bone marrow that give rise to all the blood cells. There are three types of bone marrow transplants: autologous, allogenic and umbilical cord blood transplant. Autologous removes stem cells before receiving high-dosage of chemotherapy and radiation. After the treatment, stem cells are put back into the body. Allegonic is when stem cells are removed from a donor. Lastly, the umbilical cord blood transplant is done by removing the stem cells from the umbilical cord of a new born baby. Since they are so immature, there is a less of a concern if they will match. Bone marrow is removed from the hip while being under general anesthesia.


Dr. Julie Kanter
Director of Sickle Cell Center of Southern Louisiana
Tulane University School of Medicine
Sickle Cell Center
(504) 988-5413

You must be logged in to post comments.

Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:
WCTV 1801 Halstead Blvd. Tallahassee, FL 32309
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 135131523 -
Gray Television, Inc.