Sally-Ann Roberts / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- Ollie Green has broken new ground. The 17-year-old is the first sickle cell patient to undergo a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor at Children's Hospital, and if you wonder how critical this donation is, just ask Ollie's doctor.
'We've been checking him...so he is cured of sickle cell disease,' says Dr. Lolie Yu.
Ollie is free of sickle cell and the painful attacks that required him to have hundreds of blood transfusions over the course of his life. But he still faces a long recovery.
'I guess with the bone marrow you get worse before you get better, but you get better,' said Tanya Green, Ollie's mother. 'With sickle cell it never got better.'
'He isn't in as much pain like he was before,' says Ollie Green Sr, 'Ollie is still frail nearly five months after his bone marrow transplant.'
With the exception of his caretaker mother, most people, including his sisters, wear masks around Ollie because he is susceptible to infection until his immune system is restored.
They don't know anything about the donor who was found on the national marrow donor registry. But Ollie's parents believe that person was heaven sent.
'The way I look at it is God would never let an unrelated donor be a perfect match for my son if it wasn't for a reason,' Green said.
Ollie is recovering from an infection that has left him weak but no less grateful to his unknown bone marrow donor.
'At least I'll get a chance to live life,' Ollie said.
'There is going to be a rejoicing point. We are going to see the finish line. We will,' Green said.
All because of a stranger who cared.
Ollie has a sister who has sickle cell disease, but fortunately her symptoms are not severe enough to warrant a bone marrow transplant.
Still, the family says it's reassuring to know the marrow donor registry is there if needed.