Michael came to me about 3 years ago. He had weight loss, a huge abdominal mass (spleen), and a white blood cell count of 255,000. (Normal is about 5,000).
Bone marrow test suggested a form of leukemia known as CML: chronic myelogenous leukemia. For reasons unknown to all, there is a huge amount of CML among young people here.
There is a specific, active medicine available for CML called imatinib (gleevec). However, in order to qualify for the Novartis free donation program, one must first get a chromosome assay in Germany looking for a translocation called “Philadelphia Chromosome.” This costs $600. That’s about 3 years salary for the average Ethiopian. His single mom, a housemaid, could never afford this.
I paid for his testing out of our donated funds. He then qualified for free imatinib, and he has had a fantastic response.
He stopped in to say hi over the weekend, and I took this latest photo. Photos are posted with permission.
Rick Hodes, MD, MACP
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