Young 'superhero' battling sickle cell disease gets transplant - FOX 35 News Orlando

Young 'superhero' battling sickle cell disease gets bone marrow transplant

Posted: Updated:
Keith McKenzie, Jr. also known as KJ for short Keith McKenzie, Jr. also known as KJ for short
(WJBK) -

UPDATE DEC. 5: KJ and his little brother are recovering and doing well. Doctors say they were able to get enough viable stem cells to give KJ a surplus for 10 years. He will be in the hospital for the next four to six weeks. It will be about a year before the family will know if the transplant was a partial or complete success.

LINK: For more information on KJ's battle, and to donate to help cover medical costs: http://www.gofundme.com/5gb12s

BELOW IS THE STORY ABOUT HIS TRANSPLANT THE DAY BEFORE THE SURGERY

------

Just looking at 5-year-old KJ McKenzie you wouldn't guess he's just been through eight days of grueling chemotherapy.

"His bone marrow transplant is tomorrow. The chemotherapy that he had is as intense as any chemotherapy we give. And how did he act? He just spent the entire eight days running around the ward. Nine out of ten adults would be laying face down in this bed. This guy doesn't let it get him down," says Dr. Greg Yanik, a pediatric oncologist.

We first met the superhero fanatic almost a year ago when he was undergoing weekly blood transfusion for Sickle cell anemia, a painful disorder that blocks healthy blood flow to vital organs, muscles and tissues. Sickle cell causes life-threatening complications. Most with the disease don't live to 60.

KJ's doctors said he wasn't a candidate for a bone marrow transplant. It's risky but the most effective treatment. But after our report in February viewers urged KJ's family to get a second opinion.

"She told me, as a parent, if her mother had an opportunity to cure her and did not cure her - she would never forgive her," says Tamiko McKenzie, KJ's mother. "KJ was already experiencing silent strokes. His heart valve was enlarged. So all of those things were uncovered after coming here."

"There's approximately 100,000 Americans in the U.S. that are affected with sickle cell. It affects about one out of every 500 African American children in the United States. For those children, it's an incredible life of ups and downs that they face," says Dr. Yanik.

He is KJ's doctor at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor where they perform 250 bone marrow transplants every year. Thursday little KJ will be one of them, getting bone marrow getting drilled from the hip of his 3-year-old brother, Carson.

KJ Is lucky to have a match. There are more than 10 million people waiting for a bone marrow transplant. The test - a simple swab of the cheek, but people just don't do it.

"For patients like KJ, we need more minority donors," says Dr. Yanik. "Our ability to help these children with sickle cell is really dependent on our ability to get individuals into that registry."

"They have given us a chance for a new life, a normal life, a better quality of life for KJ, that we never thought we would have," says Tamiko. "It's a big deal because I'll have two children in the hospital."

If the surgery is a success KJ can look forward to playing outside and chasing his friends, the normal kid stuff he couldn't do before. His superhero family can take a day off.

  • Download the FOX 2 Apps


  • FOX 2 News Five-Day Forecast
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Military reservist killed during carjacking on Detroit's west side

    Military reservist killed during carjacking on Detroit's west side

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 8:56 AM EDT2014-07-29 12:56:25 GMT
    A man was shot to death in an attempted carjacking on Detroit's west side, according to police.
    Fox 2 has learned a military reservist was shot to death in an attempted carjacking Monday on Detroit's west side, according to police. 
  • Grosse Pointe Park's new farmer's market seen by some as a barrier to Detroit

    Grosse Pointe Park's new farmer's market seen by some as a barrier to Detroit

    Monday, July 28 2014 11:25 PM EDT2014-07-29 03:25:26 GMT
    Some Detroiters are calling for a boycott of Grosse Pointe Park after the city built a farmer's market that they believe cuts off access to and from Detroit.
    Some Detroiters are calling for a boycott of Grosse Pointe Park after the city built a farmer's market that they believe cuts off access to and from Detroit.
  • Detroit teen recovering after basketball accident at park

    Detroit teen recovering after basketball accident at park

    Monday, July 28 2014 10:51 PM EDT2014-07-29 02:51:50 GMT
    A Detroit teen is seriously hurt after an accident at a Detroit park. He has a long road to recovery ahead, but has a strong support system that isn't giving up hope.
    A Detroit teen is seriously hurt after an accident at a Detroit park. He has a long road to recovery ahead, but has a strong support system that isn't giving up hope.

Powered by WorldNow

35 Skyline Drive
Lake Mary, FL 32746

Phone: (407) 644-3535
News Tips: (866) 55-FOX35

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices