Girl, 7, Finds Leukemia Cure In HIV After Battling Disease For Two Years

Tue, December 11, 2012 12:27pm EDT by 14 Comments
HIV Cures Leukemia
Courtesy Of Savannah Smith, The Pennsylvania State University

Emily Whitehead was battling leukemia for two whole years — and relapsed twice during intensive chemotherapy treatments. Her family was given 48 hours to make the heart-wrenching decision to undergo a new medical treatment involving HIV that ended up saving her life.

By April of 2012,  Emily Whitehead, 7, and her family had just about given up hope that they would beat the leukemia she had been fighting for two years. She had relapsed twice — and didn’t seem to be responding to any of the traditional treatments.

Emily couldn’t be in remission long enough to attempt a bone marrow transplant, and her parents, Kari and Tom Whitehead, looked at more unconventional options for treating their little girl.

They went to Cancer Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which is known for testing and paving the way for new cancer treatments.

“We needed to try something new, different and cutting-edge,” Kari said, according to the Daily Mail.

Doctors brought up the idea of submitting Emily in a clinical trial that uses a disabled form of HIV to bring cancer-fighting genes to her T-cells. The idea behind the study is to reprogram the immune system to attack the cancer cells.

“We were told that we were down to 48 hours of making a decision or she could start having organ failure,” Tom said.

So they decided to go for it on April 17, and Emily became the first child to undergo the treatments called CTL019. Although it was rough for the first couple weeks, her condition improved immensely  By the end of April, she was breathing much better and her fever dropped significantly.

And months later, the results were even better.

“Emily completely responded to her T-cell therapy,” Dr. Stephan Grupp, the trial leader, said. “We checked her bone marrow for the possibility of disease again at three months and six months out from her treatment, and she still has no disease whatsoever. The cancer-fighting T-cells are still there in her body.”

What a medical miracle! The hospital is continuing to present their findings, and hope to expose more cancer patients to the treatment. We hope more people benefit just like Emily did!

What do YOU think of Emily’s remarkable treatment HollyMoms?

More Stories of Kids Battling Leukemia:

  1. This 5-Year-Old’s Artwork Helped Pay for His Own Chemotherapy Treatments
  2. Facebook Saved This 4-Year-Old Boy’s Life — Leukemia Diagnosis Mystery
  3. Father Fights Mom Giving Daughter With Cancer, 7, Medical Marijuana

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Anis

Posted at 7:20 AM on December 28, 2012  

I pray to God to stand by this family nothing is harder than watching your child helpless and slipping away. This medicine they used this is big, this is HUGE, this could possibly be a breakthrough that will dwarf everything humanity devised in medical field ever and that includes Penicillin. Programming T-Cells to fight whatever disease exists and will exist be it cancer, other viruses and whatever comes and all that using a virus that specifically targets T-cells and rewire their genetic code to whatever we devise in labs. Wow.

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Joe

Posted at 9:28 PM on December 16, 2012  

Coulda been used for Edd Gould.

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d.harris

Posted at 3:25 PM on December 13, 2012  

you are totally right jess.am in the medical line and i understand fully what it is all about.i can only say THANK GOD for all the improvement and for kari ,tom and their little girl,i can only say amen.at least they are getting some air after the nightmare.

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aley

Posted at 11:36 PM on June 20, 2013  

I would thank the doctors, not God!!

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cris

Posted at 12:14 AM on December 12, 2012  

i don’t understand isn’t hiv aids desease(sp) which has killed many people how can it cure cancer

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Jess

Posted at 1:57 AM on December 13, 2012  

They said – it’s a disabled form of the virus. Basically, the virus has the immensely infective part down, but not the make-you-sick part. Instead of giving you AIDS, it injects genes that fight leukemia.

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Bobby Gray

Posted at 11:46 AM on December 13, 2012  

Viruses are extremely efficient at what they do, which is spreading.

The future of medicine is “injecting” good thing inside a virus strain so instead of the virus “delivering” or spreading the normal bad stuff, it is spreading the medicine we put in them.

That is my EXTREMELY simplified explanation, hope it helped.

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tony

Posted at 7:30 PM on December 11, 2012  

god bless em

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Mika

Posted at 5:29 PM on December 11, 2012  

That guy is looking at his wife with pure disgust lol.

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biggyguns2

Posted at 4:23 PM on December 11, 2012  

Reblogged this on Biggyguns2's Blog.

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tiki

Posted at 2:33 PM on December 11, 2012  

honestly, if my kids were dying like that, I would jump at anything that could give them a chance.

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lisa

Posted at 10:00 AM on December 12, 2012  

soooo you rather your child die a few years later of AIDS than dying from lukemia.. hmmm

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Jeannie

Posted at 10:33 AM on December 12, 2012  

It says its a disabled form of HIV, I don’t believe it is active HIV. Also, people can live 10/20 + years with HIV and not develop AIDS.

 
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Jason Doe

Posted at 6:31 PM on December 13, 2012  

You’re a idiot…..hmmmm…

 
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