Umbilical Cord Translant Succeeds for Molly Nash
What: Umbilical cord transplant recipient Molly Nash goes home
Who: John Wagner, M.D.
Contacts: Sarah Youngerman, Academic Health Center, (612) 624-4604
(01/04/2001) —Six-year-old Molly Nash, who received an umbilical cord blood transplant from her baby brother in September, will return to her home in Colorado this week. University of Minnesota transplant specialist Dr. John Wagner performed the transplant on Molly, who suffers from the often fatal Fanconi anemia, in hope of reversing her bone marrow failure. A test earlier this week showed that nearly 100 percent of Molly's bone marrow is derived from her brother's, demonstrating a recovery that is better than expected, Wagner said.
"While we will continue to monitor Molly, especially over this first critical year, her prognosis looks great," said Wagner. "Molly is an example of how the work done to combine pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to create a healthy cord blood donor holds great promise for those with not only Fanconi anemia, but also leukemia, thalassemia, Hurler syndrome and other diseases that cause the immune system and bone marrow to fail."
Molly's parents, Jack and Lisa Nash of Englewood, Colo., underwent PGD, a procedure through which scientists can test embryos produced through in-vitro fertilization to see which ones would be free of the genetic disease and also be a perfect tissue match to serve as a donor for Molly. When Adam Nash was born, the blood from his umbilical cord, which normally would have been thrown away, was used to transplant into Molly. This is the first time PGD has been used for the expressed purpose of ensuring a perfect stem-cell donor.
The Nash family said they are eager to return home to Colorado after spending the last four months in Minnesota closely monitoring Molly's medical progress and watching their newborn son grow.
"We are thrilled to see Molly return to the playful, energetic, young girl we love and appreciate," said Jack Nash. "The bond already created between Molly and Adam is unlike any other sibling relationship, and we are truly grateful that they will be able to grow up and share a lifetime of experiences together--a lifetime that otherwise would not have been shared."
Molly Nash's story has received international attention, making the time in Minnesota for the Nash family often hectic. "Our deepest thanks and appreciation goes out to the doctors who have each individually played an important role in Molly's journey," said Lisa Nash. "They are Dr. Charles 'Buck' Strom, who did the PGD in Chicago, Dr. William Schoolcraft, who did the IVF in Colorado, and Dr. John Wagner, who brought us all together here in Minneapolis. We know we have a long road ahead for Molly and things will not always be easy for her, but we're ready to return home and build a normal, private life for our family."
Recently, the University of Minnesota assembled some of the nation's leading experts in the areas of law, ethics, reproductive medicine and genetics. The panel discussed the current policies and ethics surrounding PGD and stem cell research. The result was a set of guiding principles and recommendations for continuing a national dialog to advance policies on PGD and stem cell research.
"The University of Minnesota is committed to leading not only the science and medicine in areas like stem cell research," said Wagner, "but the ethics and legal issues raised by the research as well. The University of Minnesota is uniquely positioned because it is home to a broad spectrum of academic disciplines, including the schools of medicine, law and public affairs, the Center for Bioethics and the Stem Cell Institute."