Jehovah's Witness Receives Blood Cancer Treatment Without Transfusion

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Jill Chadwick

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       At just 19, Sydney Joorabchi was battling cancer for the second time. She was first diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at 13. After harsh rounds of chemotherapy, at 16, she went into remission. But three years later it was back.

       Due to her religious beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness, Sydney was adamant not to have a blood transfusion part of her treatment.

After discussing her needs with her doctor, he suggested she seek treatment at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. That is where she met Dr. Sunil Abhyankar and his team, who got to work at figuring out how to accommodate Sydney’s medical and spiritual needs.

Based on the kind of cancer they decided to perform Car-T therapy. A type of treatment that works well for blood cancers, and often requires no chemotherapy or blood transfusions, and can have fewer side effects. Car T therapy essentially extracts your own blood, reengineers your cells and then places the new cells back into your body.

Sydney was skeptical at first because she assumed she’d ultimately need a bone marrow transplant, but 30 days after treatment, Sydney was in full remission.

In the video, Dr. Abyankar with The University of Kansas Cancer Center says he has seen an 80 percent success rate treating Sydney’s type of cancer. Although right now chemotherapy is the first treatment source for leukemia, these promising results mean doctors can hopefully soon start introducing this type of treatment earlier on in the treatment process.

Also in the video, Sydney Joorabchi talks about how thankful she is to get the treatment that may have saved her life while letting her observe her religious beliefs.