Hanif Mouehla was 8 years old when he was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia. At the time, doctors said he had a 20% chance of survival — but he ended up beating all odds, reports People.
Now, at the age of 17, the teenager is well on his way to studying medicine at Harvard University.
“I would say that from a young age my focus was exclusively on medicine and becoming a doctor,” shared Mouehla, who recently graduated from Northern Valley Regional High School in Old Tappan, New Jersey. People” with.
According to the outlet, Mouehla fell into a coma as a young boy after both lungs collapsed from the complications of the debilitating illness. An experimental stem cell transplant performed by pediatric hematology and oncology specialist Dr. Mitchell Cairo ultimately saved his life.
As People reports, nearly a decade ago, Mouehla was diagnosed by Dr. Cairo treated. His research allowed Hanif to receive a haploidentical stem cell transplant from his mother, as none of the boy’s siblings matched.
In order for the mother’s cells to successfully destroy sickle cells in her son’s bloodstream, they were first grown in Dr. Cairo “charged,” reports People. After nearly six months of treatment, the doctor said Mouehla was “relatively over the hill and stable.”
The teenager’s cell disease therapy is currently in the second phase of a clinical trial, but People reports that he is cured of sickle cell anemia.
“It was a wonderful journey after Hanif was healed,” the boy’s mother, Khuraira Musa, told People. “I just wish for all parents today that they have what I have with Hanif.”
Based on this experience, Mouehla decided to pursue a career in medicine and Dr. Cairo now acts as his boss. Mouehla joined the doctor’s research lab last summer to help find a cure for sickle cell anemia. In December, Mouehla learned that he had been admitted to Harvard.
“When I look at the medical center as a whole, it was something I really wanted to emulate and that gave me the desire [choose] Medicine, especially as a hematologist,” Mouehla told People.
dr Cairo calls Mouehla’s transformation “one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve ever had,” he told People.
“And of course there’s a transformation that happens, like he wants to keep paying now…it’s not easy getting into Harvard,” the doctor added.
Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disorder that affects an estimated 70,000 to 100,000 Americans. As previously reported by theGrio, the disease is having a significant impact on the black community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it occurs in one in 365 births to black or African American people.
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