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Chinonso (Nonso) was born with sickle cell disease, an inherited disorder affecting red blood cells that leaves those afflicted in cycles of pain and in-and-out of hospitals. A documentary film sparked Nonso’s path to life-changing treatment: she watched the “The G Word with Adam Conover” episode ‘Disease’ that featured the NIH and the breakthrough procedure for Sickle Cell Disease developed at NIH. A bone marrow transplant could be a cure.

“It has been an emotional roller coaster—amazing, hard, life changing—so many emotions.. . . From night to day.”

The idea of a transplant was promising but complicated. It would require Nonso and her husband Joseph to temporarily relocate from their Chicago home to Bethesda, Maryland to be near the NIH Clinical Center for a minimum of six months. The prospect of moving to a new city was daunting and a stressful part of their journey.

When the couple arrived in Bethesda they found the support they needed through the NIH and with the help of Friends to cover the cost of accommodations, food, and incidentals. “We knew everything was taken care of so we could focus on just getting better.” Nonso and Joseph have been staying at one of our five furnished apartments near the NIH campus.

The future looks bright for Nonso. A few weeks post transplant, she is now off pain medications and starting to do the many things that others take for granted such as climbing stairs and going for walks. “It is like a weight being lifted off of you.” In a few more weeks, Nonso and Joseph will be returning home and ready to begin their next chapter, free of Sickle Cell Disease.”

Friends at NIH is honored to partner with the medical team at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the NIH and the “Cure Sickle Cell Initiative” supporting patients and research.

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The Friends of Patients at the NIH