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Published on Jul 26, 2012
Tonya and Marvin Morris were pregnant with their fifth child, Sparrow, when they first learned about cord blood banking. Like many expecting parents who bank, they decided to save her cord blood so it might be available for any of their children, should one of them ever need it.
Sparrow Morris was born a healthy baby girl in rural Missouri. When she was 2 years old, she was in the garden playing with her siblings, trying to fill a watering can from the family pool. She lost her balance and tumbled in, quickly becoming unconscious under the water.
Tonya began CPR until rescue workers arrived at their rural home and transported the little girl to a place where she could be medevaced to the nearest hospital. The emergency crew didn't receive a pulse until they were in the air.
The aftermath After being deprived of oxygen for so long, Sparrow's neurologist had little hope that the toddler would come out of her vegetative state. The family told doctors that they had saved Sparrow's cord blood, but were told that cord blood could only help in the case of blood cancers. Sparrow was sent home, unable to sit up, crawl, or talk. Nearly a year later, Tonya was approached by a friend who was interested in banking with CBR. Tonya called CBR and was put through to a Cord Blood Education Specialist. During the call, she happened to ask the Specialist if cord blood was currently being used to treat brain injury. She was transferred immediately to CBR's transplant office.
Offering the chance at a better life Thirteen months after the accident, Sparrow received a reinfusion of her cord blood stem cells through an investigational treatment at Duke University. Shortly after, in conjunction with physical and occupational therapies, her family began to report she was moving her limbs with purpose.
Today, Sparrow has been released from all of her physical and speech therapy classes. According to her mother, "Sparrow is doing so well! Other than continuing to have some balance issues, she can walk, run, and jump on the trampoline. She is meeting goals set out for her and far exceeding what anyone thought she was capable of. She speaks slowly, but is able to string five- to nine-word sentences together."
"My husband and I no longer believe in coincidences," Tonya said. "So many things came together to help Sparrow and she is expected to continue to improve. We are so happy to have had the chance to offer her a better quality of life."