A child born with sickle cell disease faces life punctuated with painful medical complications, hospitalizations and a shortened life expectancy. They are sidelined from sports and other fun activities. “It is also very taxing on parents,” says Dr. Allistair Abraham, a blood and marrow transplantation specialist at Children’s National Hospital.

Dr. Abraham often meets families searching for a cure. His research helps children grow up stronger.

Demier was 3 when his parents opted into an ongoing clinical trial at Children’s National. The trial evaluated cord blood as a curative stem cell transplant option for children with sickle cell disease. About 80 percent of the first group of patients had been cured of the disease, says Dr. Abraham. He divides his time between clinical care, investigating other solutions to the disease and promoting the importance of sickle cell research.

Demier was in the hospital for months before, during and after his transplant. “Along the way, his family and I have struggled and cried and smiled together,” says Dr. Abraham.

The transplant cured Demier, now 8. He loves to go to school, play football and splash in the pool with his friends. “When I see pictures of him playing and having fun,” Dr. Abraham says, “those are the real wow moments the moments to celebrate the wonderful relationships we have with our families and the impact our research can have on a kid’s life.”

A young patient at Children's National Hospital.

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A young patient at Children's National Hospital.