Celia Lau was devastated when she learned that her unborn child, Justin, would have the same genetic condition – severe combined immunodeficiency disease (SCID) – that took the life of her first child, Cameron, just three years prior.
At 14 weeks gestation, Justin was diagnosed with SCID, more commonly known as the “bubble boy” disease, which means that he would have no immune system to fight against infections. When he was born in 2007, Justin was isolated immediately and had an operation at only nine days old to insert a central line for his treatments. The next day, he began intensive chemotherapy, followed by a cord blood transplant from an unrelated donor. He was hospitalized and isolated for 67 days before he was able to go home.
A combination of research and clinical care at BC Children’s Hospital saved Justin’s life. Because SCID is a genetic condition, doctors’ and researchers’ previous experience in treating Cameron enabled them to determine the exact type of Justin’s DNA mutation and find a suitable cord blood for Justin’s stem cell transplant before he was even born.
After his life-saving treatment, Justin visited Children’s for follow-up appointments twice weekly; in time, the frequency of his visits decreased. Currently, Justin only needs to come to the hospital once a year for check-ups. Until recent years, SCID was always fatal. But thanks to the dedication of caregivers at BC Children’s Hospital and love of his family, Justin is now enjoying life as a happy and healthy six-and-a-half-year-old.