Steven Gonzalez Jr. is a 20 year old attending the University of North Texas who is just about to begin his sophomore year at the school. But Steven did not always have university as a goal to aspire towards as he battled a severe case of acute myeloid leukaemia when he was 12 years old.
When Steven was diagnosed, he was subjected to intense chemotherapy to combat the cancer while doctors began searching bone marrow registries for a matching stem cell donor. After all efforts were exhausted with no success, Steven was told he had a very slim chance of survival.
One of the challenges for Steven is that his background is very mixed, stemming from American Indian, Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage. Finding a bone marrow donor who is a genetic match to three separate genetics is very difficult.
However while staying at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Steven was told about umbilical cord blood stem cells as an alternative to bone marrow. Unlike bone marrow, cord blood stem cells are more likely to adapt to uncommon genetics and combat cancerous cells.
After partnering with a donor cord blood bank in Texas, doctors found two suitable samples of cord blood. Steven then underwent a double cord blood transplant, and seven years later continues to live cancer free.
Tara Sadeghi, who works for the cord blood bank that provided Steven the donated sample, is still in touch with the sophomore. According to Sadeghi, Steven remains grateful to this day that cord blood stem cell therapy changed his life.
“He was so fortunate that these cords were available and were matching. He would not be here if he could not have that cord.”
More details about Steven and his journey are available by following the link here.