Young 'superhero' battling sickle cell disease gets transplant - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

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.

  • Maurielle LueMaurielle LueMore>>

  • Attorney wants investigation of city clerk over Arab-American voter suppression

    Attorney wants investigation of city clerk over Arab-American voter suppression

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:43 PM EDT2014-07-30 03:43:20 GMT
    It is the tale of two cities. one paints a picture of a meticulous Dearborn Heights city clerk, following the law and fighting for a fair election. The other a story of abuse of power, mishandled ballots and voter suppression.Fatima Abdrabboh is an attorney and Michigan's director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee the largest chapter in the country. She is calling for a full-scale investigation into claims that Walter Prusiewicz mishandled ballots from Arab-American voters fo...
    It is the tale of two cities. one paints a picture of a meticulous Dearborn Heights city clerk, following the law and fighting for a fair election. The other a story of abuse of power, mishandled ballots and voter suppression.Fatima Abdrabboh is an attorney and Michigan's director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee the largest chapter in the country. She is calling for a full-scale investigation into claims that Walter Prusiewicz mishandled ballots from Arab-American voters fo...
  • 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.

  • Marygrove College president wants to help child immigrants

    Marygrove College president wants to help child immigrants

    Thursday, July 17 2014 7:37 PM EDT2014-07-17 23:37:56 GMT
    The immigration crisis at the border continues to make its way to Michigan. Now, the president of Marygrove College says he wants to provide resources to help child immigrants from Central America.
    The immigration crisis at the border continues to make its way to Michigan. Now, the president of Marygrove College says he wants to provide resources to help child immigrants from Central America.
  • Download the FOX 2 Apps


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

  • Michigan man mocked on Instagram by Shaquille O'Neal, celebrities files lawsuit

    Michigan man mocked on Instagram by Shaquille O'Neal, celebrities files lawsuit

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-07-30 23:08:15 GMT
    Jahmel Binion filed a lawsuit in Macomb County court today.Jahmel Binion filed a lawsuit in Macomb County court today.
    They said they were sorry -- but it's not enough. The local man -- who was mocked for his appearance on Instagram by Shaquille O'Neal and other celebrities is now suing.
    They said they were sorry -- but it's not enough. The local man -- who was mocked for his appearance on Instagram by Shaquille O'Neal and other celebrities is now suing.
  • Witnesses describe punch that killed soccer ref, say suspect has been violent before

    Witnesses describe punch that killed soccer ref, say suspect has been violent before

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 6:57 PM EDT2014-07-30 22:57:23 GMT
    More details emerged from 16th District Court about what happened on the soccer field the day that referee John Bieniewicz died, allegedly from a punch to the neck by Baseel Abdul-Amir Saad. Testimony was heard through the eyes of four witnesses, three players including two on the opposing team, one teammate of Saad and a police officer. According to court testimony, Saad has gotten violent before on the soccer field.Wiping away tears, 36-year-old Saad, facing a judge on second-degree murder ...
    More details emerged from 16th District Court about what happened on the soccer field the day that referee John Bieniewicz died, allegedly from a punch to the neck by Baseel Abdul-Amir Saad. Testimony was heard through the eyes of four witnesses, three players including two on the opposing team, one teammate of Saad and a police officer. According to court testimony, Saad has gotten violent before on the soccer field.Wiping away tears, 36-year-old Saad, facing a judge on second-degree murder ...
  • Woman's life changed from side effect of bariatric surgery

    Woman's life changed from side effect of bariatric surgery

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 6:41 PM EDT2014-07-30 22:41:11 GMT
    A metro Detroit woman should be celebrating her tremendous weight loss, but instead is now battling a rare condition that has her regretting her bariatric surgery.
    A metro Detroit woman should be celebrating her tremendous weight loss, but instead is now battling a rare condition that has her regretting her bariatric surgery.
Powered by WorldNow

25 FOX Drive
Dedham, MA 02026

Phone (781) 467-2525

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