'One of the lucky ones': Riley patient goes home after bone marrow donor match

(WTHR photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - An Indianapolis boy just received a life-saving gift. Thanks to a bone marrow donor, he's now free from sickle cell disease.

IU Health Riley Hospital for Children has been 11-year-old Elliot Preddie's home for 37 days.

"We've been on this long journey with sickle cell anemia since he was born," said Elliot's mom, Tremesha.

It's a journey she hopes will soon come to an end. Elliot just had a stem cell transplant.

"Elliot was one of the lucky ones," she said.

Lucky to find a matching bone marrow donor. At least 3,000 Americans die each year because they can't find a matching donor. It's harder for patients of ethnically and racially diverse backgrounds to find a match. If you're black, you have a 23 percent chance of finding an unrelated donor, compared to 75 percent of whites.

"It really is a crisis within the African-American community," Tremesha said.

She said she has been educating people about the need for more donors of color to join the national registry, to help those like her son and those who die because they can't find a match.

Despite Elliot's transplant success, doctors say he isn't out of the woods just yet.

"While it appears that the cells from his transplant have engrafted, there is still risk that he may lose his transplant," said Seethal Jacob, Director of the Sickle Cell Program at Riley.

But that's not what's on Elliot's mind. He's just excited to be back home again.

"He's happy to be home. We're happy to have our family piece back together," said Tremesha.