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With the help of the Friends of Patients of the NIH, Jennifer Nsenkyire and her mother, Rose, currently live in a fully furnished apartment in Bethesda, MD, while NIH treats and observes her following a second transplant. Jennifer, originally from Ghana, has suffered from sickle cell anemia from birth. She moved to the United States in 1995 with her sisters, determined to attend and graduate from George Mason University, despite her debilitating disease.

“There was never a life before sickle cell,” Jennifer told us. She regularly experienced excruciating pain and had to be hospitalized multiple times due to her chronic condition.

In November of 2010, after trying a number of therapeutics that offered marginal relief, Jennifer came to the NIH for an experimental bone marrow transplant procedure called haplo-transplantation, also known as a half-match transplant. In a half-match, only about half of the donor HLA antigens (a type of protein) match those of the recipient. For Jennifer, the procedure worked. Her bone marrow, for the first time, began producing healthy cells. She moved into her own place, published a book about her experience, held two full-time accountant jobs, bought her first car and learned to drive. Jennifer’s depression lifted as she began living a normal life.

Ten years later however, the percentage of the donor cells in Jennifer’s body had decreased to a concerning amount. After she experienced a pain episode this past December, the NIH scheduled her to receive a second transplant this past July. She took a leave of absence from her job to recover.

“Words cannot express what a world of a difference the Friends of Patients at the NIH have made for me and my family, because it has given us peace of mind and security”

Sickle Cell Disease has impacted Jennifer’s life tremendously. The pain episodes and multiple hospitalizations are not only debilitating, but also a financial drain. Not always being able to keep a job because of her condition, the lack of health insurance made treatment unaffordable – until the NIH and Friends of Patients stepped in.

“Words cannot express what a world of a difference the Friends of Patients at the NIH have made for me and my family, because it has given us peace of mind and security,” Jennifer said.

“I am going to be unstoppable!

“After I left the hospital, they provided this apartment for me and my mother Rose, who is my caregiver. We are closer to the NIH, so if there are any issues we can get there quickly. They have given us a place to lay our heads where we are safe, and they have provided vouchers for meals.”

So, what’s in the future for Jennifer? “I am going to be unstoppable! I feel like I’ve been given a second chance, AGAIN!”

A huge THANK YOU to our partners and sponsors for making this possible! THANK YOU to Bozzuto Management and Belfort Furniture for their generous support. We would not be able to help patients like Jennifer without you!

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