BMT can cure sickle cell disease. BMT from a matched brother or sister is best and may help preserve IQ. But only 25% (1 out of 4 children) have a suitable match in their family. Using donors who aren’t relatives can help more children get life-saving transplants. However, until recently, no one knew if transplants from unrelated donors could protect IQ.
Researchers studied 13 children for 2 years after BMT from unrelated donors. The children were 6 to 17 years old, and the study took place between 2008 and 2014. Before and after transplant, the children took tests to measure their intelligence. At the end of 2 years, most children’s intelligence stayed the same. Because these children no longer have sickle cell disease, doctors don’t expect these children to lose any more IQ points. Meanwhile, children with the disease may continue to lose an average of 1 IQ point each year.