Jul
6

Have we found the cure for Diabetes?

Hopefully soon a thing of the past - Insulin Shots
Insulin Shots...Hopefully soon a thing of the past!

Insulin Shots...Hopefully soon a thing of the past!

 

It is estimated that 1 million Americans suffer from type 1 diabetes.  Among the most dangerous side effects of the disease are: heart disease, kidney failure, and blindness.   For years the only treatment for this debilitating disease has been through insulin replacement therapies.  However  in 2007 researchers from Brazil and Northwestern University in Chicago conducted a  very revolutionary procedure.  They performed stem cell transplants on 23 patients suffering from type 1 diabetes.  After radiation, the patients were injected with stem cells found in their own bone marrow.  Results from the procedure were extremely promising for the future of those suffering from type 1 diabetes.

The stem cells allowed the patients to create new healthier blood that was not dependent upon insulin replacement therapy.  All of the patients showed signs of improvement and some were insulin free for up to five years.  Although this is not a cure for diabetes it is a milestone that will likely lead to a cure in the future.

The Exciting news is that:   

  • The stem cells doctors used for this procedure are also found in CORD BLOOD!  

Even BETTER NEWS:

  • The stem cells found in Cord blood are far richer then those found in bone marrow.

My best friend Alli has suffered with the disease for her entire life. I have witnessed the struggles she has been through and know the toll it has taken on her and her loved ones.  With statistics increasing yearly, you too may know someone who is, or will suffer from diabetes.

YOU CAN HELP!  Please help me spread the word about the importance of cord blood preservation by updating your status on twitter and facebook.

Your opinions are very important to me, I invite you to leave your thoughts!

Together We CAN Help Save Lives,

Natalie Curry

Jul
0

“The Dull Razor”

Over the last couple of months, I have been writing  a book about my families couragous medical journeys and how cord blood saved my life.  Now  I have something very exciting that I’d like to share with you.  The following is part of one of the many stories that will be in the book!

-The Shaving Day-

 ……………One afternoon while grandma was with me, a nurse came into my laminair flow room holding only a sterile but dull razor.  She had come to shave  all of my hair off.  I remember sitting in the middle of my hospital  bed with tears rolling down my face while grandma held on to me tight. I wasn’t afraid or sad, I was in pain. My scalp began to feel like it was on fire! As grandma watched pieces of my dark hair hit the ground she felt sorrow in that she couldn’t ease the pain it was causing. The burning presisted long after all of my hair was gone.  A few days prior I had received a low dose of Chemo therapy to treat the bad cells in my blood.  In an effort to prevent  having  my hair gradually fall out,  the nurses felt it best to shave it off.

When Dad arrived at the hospital later and noticed what had happened, he was extremely angry! He was upset that no one had infomed him they were going to shave my head.  Not only that, but he was even more furious that they didn’t use any shaving cream or water.  He confronted the nursing and staff and as he says ”They understood all of my AMERICAN curse words!” In the days following the shaving I developed a rash on my head.  Dad says I looked just as cute with a bald head.  But that seeing it reinforced that everything was really happening.  He wanted me to have a normal childhood and knew that he had to keep a positive attitude and that one day I would………………

 More of this story and many others can be found in the completed book.

July is Cord Blood Awareness month. Together we can help save lives! You can help by tweeting on titter, updating your status on facebook and spreading the word to everyone you know!

Your opinions are very important to me.  I welcome you to share your thoughts!  This is just part of my story! I am working on writing my book now and hope to be finished within the next few months.

Together We CAN Help Save Lives,

Natalie Curry

Jul
2

Alarming news for Minorities Representation in Cord Blood!

Since the development of Cord blood banks in 1989, several people have reaped the amazing rewards they have to offer! Many, many lives have been saved and the research completed has been extremely promising. Awareness is  without a doubt the greatest obstacle to the expansion of cord blood banking. However also among these obstacles is that  banks all over the world have an alarmingly low number of cord blood units  available to represent minorities.

Highly underrepresented:

  • Asian
  • African American
  • Hispanic
  • Mixed Ethnicities

Did you know that Caucasians have a 50% better chance at finding a donor through the national marrow program? For others the chance can drop to below 15%!  There are a few major reasons for these staggering statistics.  One of the biggest reasons is that the minorities listed above  have a larger variation of HLA types found in there blood than Caucasians. “What is HLA types?”, you ask? An HLA type is what makes each individuals blood unique. It is the determining factor used when looking for a donor.  So when minorities, especially with a mixed background, are searching for a donor, the odds of finding a match are much higher.

I think it’s safe to say, that this is a major problem!  The solution is simple! We need to raise awareness of cord blood preservation and increase bone marrow registrations. Everyone deserves a fighting chance! There is NO better time than right now! July is Cord Blood Awareness month..together we can spread the word!

 You can help by:  Tweeting on twitter, updating your status on facebook and sharing this valuable news with everyone you know!

Together We CAN Help Save Lives,

Natalie Curry

Jul
3

You tell me WHY and I'll tell you HOW

Mom and I having lunch on NYC

Mom and I having lunch in NYC

“Those who have a strong enough WHY can bear almost any HOW.”- Tony Robbins

When doctors told me I had  to have a kidney transplant. When they told me on more than one occasion that I needed to have biopsy’s to check for cancer or when they told me  that I needed to have surgery on both of my knees and that  my dancing days were over,  I did not ask “why”? When I found out that Emily was putting her life at risk to save mine and my heart was crushed with fear for her, I did not ask “why”?   I never questioned why things happened to me, I always thought that everything happened for a reason. I feel like everything I have been through medicaly was so that other people wouldn’t have to suffer. With every procedure I had done, I thought to myself at least this is happening to me and not to someone else.This attitude has helped  me reflect upon my experiences as experiences that make me stronger.    

 I REFUSE  to allow  my medical problems to  control my life, because I have so many dreams. I REFUSE to give up.  WHY? Because I want to make a difference.  I want to have a family.  I want to see the world.  I want to be able to talk to my mom and dad everyday and I want to see my sister’s accomplish great things. I have learned that when you want something bad enough, you will do anything to figure out  HOW to make it happen!

I have many things I hope to accomplish in my lifetime. One thing is; I want to help give others a chance to fight for their dreams. With your help, we can make a difference…..July is Cord Blood Awareness month please  help me spread the word about this incredible life saving resource!

Jun
3

What would you do if you found out your child was going to die?

Aticle from Womans Day Magazine, 1991

Article from Womans Day Magazine, 1991

Twenty four years ago my parents were faced with a heart wrenching reality. Doctors told them I was going to die.

Doctors told my parents that my ONLY chance for survival was for them to conceive a perfect match sibling.  But not to bother because:

  • The  chances of that happening were virtualy ZERO.
  • Most importantly,  they didn’t have time to conceive a perfect match because I would die before that even happened.
  • There was a 25% chance that any future children would also have Fanconi Anemia and also die!

Have you ever wanted to do something and had everyone telling you don’t do that, even though in your heart you knew it was the right thing to do?  If so, then you can begin to understand how hard it was for my parents to move forward and try and conceive again for only a SMALL chance at saving my life.

Even after making the decision, they were STILL confronted with HARSH criticism and were told that conceiving a child to save another was morally wrong.  My parents decison to have more children saved my life. They had more children, not because they needed them for spare parts, but because they had LOVE.  My mom has always said that if I would have died she wanted to have peace in her heart knowing that she did everything she could to save me.

Too many people place judgment upon parents who have a child to save another. So to those people: Imagine looking into your child’s eyes and knowing there is a chance they may NOT make it to high school? Can you imagine knowing there was a chance they would NOT be able to fall in love. Can you imagine theres a chance they will not grow up and start a family of their own? Can you imagine the feeling of not knowing what day could be there last?

Is there anything you WOULDN’T do?

Together We CAN Help Save Lives,

Natalie Curry

Jun
18

My Sister's Keeper…..The TRUE story!

My Keepers....Audrey and Emily!

My Keepers....Audrey and Emily!

This weekend is the release of the much  anticipated movie, “My Sister’s Keeper”. The movie is based on the very popular book, “My Sister’s Keeper” written by Jodi Picoult. This story is very close to my story, the only difference; mine is TRUE! If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if “My Sister’s Keeper”  was based on my family’s story I’d be a millionaire by now!!  ”My Sister’s Keeper” is practicaly IDENTICAL to our story :

  • The main character and I were both terminally ill at a young age. We both suffered from renal failure and blood disaeases.
  • We were both lucky enough to have  parents that would do anything to keep us alive!
  • We both had countless surgeries.

BUT the biggest difference is that my sister Emily was not genetically designed , she was a miracle.  She was born a complete match, not by science but by pure chance. She never complained or even hesitated to help, and thats what makes her a true hero! She was destined to be my keeper, and when I count my blessings I count her twice!   Both stories have one huge underlying theme: family.  Without a strong, close and loving family, I wouldn’t be here today!

“My Sisters courage”, my “Mothers strength” and “my Fathers hope” are the words that run across the screen during the previews for the film. Every time I see this, I feel a tug at my heart strings.  I can’t help but feel very emotional! It is a very bittersweet feeling: I feel happy that more people will be educated on these issues, while  at the same time ,I feel a little disappointment that more people won’t realize how real this is.

There will be THINGS  in life that’ll make you happy, TIMES in life you will  never forget, but it’s the PEOPLE in your life that will  ALWAYS matter the most!

Together We CAN Help Save Lives,

Natalie Curry

Jun
2

Interesting Facts on Cord Blood Transplants!

 I feel that cord blood transplants are more associated with children than adults. Today while reading an article about this topic I realized that this is a common misunderstanding.  It is often times more difficult to have success with adult cord blood transplants simply because of the amount of stem cells required. Doctors are now working on ways to increase the amount of stem cells found inside cord blood. This is a HUGE breakthrough! This makes  educational awareness of cord blood preservation even more  important since they can also be used for adult patients.

 A perfect or near perfect match is usually preferred for a Bone marrow transplant. For cord blood transplants however the match doesn’t need to be as close! Which makes finding a cord blood donor easier.  Since stem cells found in cord blood are the newest (youngest) form of  blood cell there are often times less complications. 

Every time a child is born even if they are healthy and have no immediate use for cord blood, it is still so important to store it! You never know who might need it in the future.

Together We CAN Help Save Lives,

Natalie Curry

May
4

Wishful thinking or Destiny?

sweet revenge

Justin, me, Jeff and Mom at Sweet Revenge in NYC.....enjoying amazing cupcakes!

 

 

Earlier this week while I was on my lunch break I read a very touching newspaper article that my dad mailed to me. It was a story about a little girl who suffers from A plastic anemia and is now recovering.  Her wish was to attend the Kentucky Derby and Oaks horse races. Thanks to the Make a Wish Foundation her dreams came true. I was very inspired by her amazing story. I was once again reminded how much I want to help sick children and there families.

I feel like I’m doing what I can, but it’s not enough! I am very confident that my purpose in life is to help others especially children and those going through medical obstacles. Sometimes I get frustrated that I can’t do more, and that I can’t just reach out to all of them and give them hope. I am constantly brainstorming on ways that I can make a widespread impact. Every time I end up with the same answer, a book.  And though I am pursuing that avenue as aggressively as possible I almost feel like there’s something I’m just missing.  Something that I’m so close to I can feel it!

I don’t know……. it’s a hard feeling to describe but it’s deep in my heart. Sometimes I begin to wonder if I am just dreaming too big of dream. It’s hard to tell if it’s just wishful thinking or if it really is my destiny?! One thing is for sure, I will NOT give up!

Together We CAN Help Save Lives,

Natalie Curry

May
1

Nice Note

natalie and Emily

Emily and I on her 21st Birthday

Natalie, I just wanted to tell you directly how much your story inspired and amazed me. And how strong you were at such a young age. And i’m sure you hear that everyday but i truly think your story is amazing.

 What Emily did is one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard. People keep asking me what I’m writing for my paper and I keep telling them about this really cool story about how a little sister saved her older sisters life. It is the craziest story I have ever heard.

Last night when I was checking my Facebook, I was pleased to find the above note in my inbox! It was sent to me by a high school senior who is writing a research paper about Stem Cells. I had a long conversation with her and was very happy to find out how interested she was in stem cells and all the potential that they have.

She is the second person I know this year who has done a project for school about stem cells/cord blood! This makes me very excited to know that more and more people are learning about this topic.

Together We CAN Help Save Lives,

Natalie Curry

May
1

Bad Begining….Good Ending

Sunday I woke up in the middle of night, shaking uncontrollably, dizzy and a little nausea. Justin woke up to find  me freaking out and tried to comfort me. I had been dizzy all weekend and was hoping it would just go away.  After the symptoms lasted all night I became a little concerned.  First thing Monday morning I called and left a message for my doctor.  When I explained everything to the doctor he suggested I come in right away. So I headed uptown on the subway which is not an easy task when you feel dizzy and shaky. My primary care doctor is located at Sloan Kettering in the pediatric unit.  Upon arrival the nurses did all of the routine vitals and were not able to read my blood pressure.   The doctors decided to run several blood teasts, urine tests and an EKG (heart test). 

While patiently waiting for my bed to become available I watched many family’s with sick children. I was extremely touched by there remarkable courage. Most of them were connected to IV’s or some form of machine. Some of them were in wheel chairs while others ran around playfully.  I felt like I could relate to many of them. Every time I see a sick child it reminds me how important the Save the cord foundations mission is.

They  started an IV and put me in a shared room with a  very sick, crying toddler and her lovely parents. The poor little girl was receiving a transfusion of plasma which is extremely uncomfortable.  She was understandably upset until she finally fell asleep. I was receiving vitamins through my IV while I waited anxiously for my test results to come back.  Finally after what seemed like days of waiting the doctors came in with the results. My diagnosis was a bladder infection, not good news but it defiantly could have been worse. They started me on a very strong dose of antibiotic one dose which I received intravenously.

Since I was still dizzy from my medicine the doctors wouldn’t let me leave alone. I called my sister Audrey who was at work and she came right over to the hospital. I was at the hospital a total of 5 and a half hours and I was ready to get home. A quick stop at the pharmacy and I was back to the apartment. I hadn’t eaten anything all day so Justin surprised me with one of my favorite meals from Peep along with desert from Sweet Revenge. It was the perfect ending to a very long day.

Together We CAN Help Save Lives,

Natalie Curry

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