1. Archive

Baby's bone marrow cells used in transplant for ailing sister

A teen-ager with a deadly form of leukemia got a transplant of blood-building bone marrow cells Tuesday from her baby sister, who was conceived in an attempt to save the young woman's life. Doctors won't know for a month if the transplant was successful, hospital officials said.

Before the transplant, 19-year-old Anissa Ayala, hospitalized since May 22 at the City of Hope National Medical Center, completed intensive chemotherapy to destroy her cancerous bone marrow.

Healthy bone marrow, the source of new blood cells, including cells that fight disease, was tapped from the hip of 13-month-old Marissa Ayala.

Doctors said the girls' parents, Abe and Mary Ayala of Walnut, were the first couple to publicly admit to conceiving a child as a transplant donor for a sibling.

Marissa was expected to be released today, but doctors said Anissa would be hospitalized at least four more weeks. The main problems she faces are possible rejection of the new cells and infection until the new marrow begins producing disease-fighting cells.

The hospital said 72 percent of its patients who have received bone marrow transplants for chronic myelogenous leukemia _ the kind Anissa has _ are alive and disease-free.