Brother's transplant holds the gift of life for Densley family

Posted: December 26, 2014 at 8:48 am

Hard road: Cooper Densley gets a kiss from mother Olivia as brothers Jackson (left), and Fletcher play around him with father Andrew (right). Photo: Simon O'Dwyer

Santa Claus delivered some wonderful gifts to Cooper Densley this year, but none of them compare to one he received from his brother Jackson in October.

In a potentially life-saving exchange, Jackson Densley, 2, donated stem cells found in his bone marrow to his older brother Cooper, 4, three months ago.

Their parents,Oliviaand AndrewDensley, are hoping the transplant will help cure Cooper of a rare genetic condition he was diagnosed with last year: Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome.

The disorder weakens the immune system, leaving sufferers vulnerable to infections, and it reduces the production of platelets - blood cells that keep bleeding under control.

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It means children suchasCooper can get extremely sick from common coughs and colds and a knock to the head while playing sport could trigger fatal bleeding in the brain.

The only known treatment is a stem cell transplant which can be derived from bone marrow or umbilical cord blood from a healthy donor whose tissue matches that of the recipient. When those cells are put in to the recipient's bloodstream, they can develop into normal immune cells and platelets.

Without a donation, the average life expectancy for people with the condition is 15 to 20 years.

Shortly after Mr and MrsDensleywere told about Cooper's diagnosis in 2013, MrsDensleyfell pregnant with their fifth baby, prompting hope blood from their newborn's umbilical cord could provide stem cells for Cooper.

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Brother's transplant holds the gift of life for Densley family

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