Riviera Beach teen cures brother from sickle cell

By Juan Carlos Fanjul - bio | email

MIAMI (WFLX) - Shirley Ambrister's prayers have been answered for her 18-year-old son, Travis Washington.

"I am so numb. I've been waiting for this for so long," she said.

Travis has been cured of sickle cell anemia, a disease that has ravaged the Riviera Beach teen for his entire life.

At only 2 weeks old, he was diagnosed with the blood disorder which causes painful and potentially lethal complications.

"His first year of life, he was in the hospital every week. At age 11, he had a mild stroke, at age 16 a massive stroke," said Ambrister.

After years of crippling complications, Palm Beach County doctors referred the family to doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami who looked at Travis' siblings to see if they had a bone marrow match.

A bone marrow transfusion is the only potential cure for sickle cell disease.

The best DNA match came down between two of Travis' siblings, including his younger brother Trevis, a junior football player at Gardens High School.

"One the day of doing it, me and him were betting each other who would get the match. I won and he was upset a little bit," said Trevis.

But doctors were ecstatic, not only were Trevis' bone marrow stem cells a perfect genetic match, the transplant ended up curing Travis of sickle cell anemia.

"This was our last hope. I am so thankful to all that made this day possible," said Ambrister.

Especially to Travis' hero, his brother.

"I've always grown my kids to be their brothers' keeper," said Ambrister.