Success Stories: Spencer Barsh

Spencer Barsh suffered from a genetic disease that affects the brain and adrenal glands. He received a stem cell transplant from cord blood and now lives a healthy, normal life.

When Spencer was just a year old, he was diagnosed with ALD (adrenoleukodystrophy). This condition causes damage to the brain and adrenal glands over time, and can eventually be fatal. The only cure for this type of disease is a stem cell transplant.

Spencer was checked for ALD because of his cousin, who was diagnosed with the disease before Spencer received his diagnosis. When he was only two years old, Spencer went through an MRI, which showed changes were already happening to his brain.

Although his parents looked for a suitable bone marrow donor, they couldn’t find a good HLA match. This led the family to look into a donated cord blood unit, which would provide the appropriate stem cells. Cord blood cells also have a lower chance of graft-versus-host disease. This dangerous condition occurs when the donated cells begin attacking the host’s body, and is a side effect of bone marrow transplants.

In April of 2002, Spencer received an transplant from the Duke University Hospital. Over the years, cerebral damage has receded, and Spencer now lives a normal life with his family.

Find out more about cord blood here.

National Cord Blood Program