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TV spot saves girl from leukemia?

January 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A 10-year-old girl who had been fighting leukemia for nearly all of her life beat the cancer just when her family thought all hope was lost. Her family credits something they saw on television for saving her life.

Jordyn Boucher, 10, appeared in a TV spot with actress Jennifer Aniston. It's a day she remembers as being exciting, although the very reason she was in it was to spotlight the cancer research that saved her life.

At 15 months old, Jordyn's tiny body became sluggish and bruised. Doctors diagnosed her with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and in the course of eight years Jordyn underwent a bone-marrow transplant, chemotherapy and radiation. But her rare genetic makeup made the disease ferociously aggressive. Nothing worked.

"We were told to take her home and spend our last days, maybe weeks, with her," said her father, Brian.

Her mom saw a spot for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. After a few phone calls, her parents got exciting news: St. Jude had opened a clinical trial called a "haplo" transplant designed specifically to treat this disease.

"When we got to St. Jude she was 98 percent full of leukemia in her marrow. She had no immune system, and we got there with no hope," said Brian.

The procedure involved extracting natural killer cells from Jordyn's dad and then infusing them into her. The theory: the new cells would selectively kill off the cancer.

She received the treatment New Year's Day 2010. By April, Jordyn was cancer-free.

"It's a groundbreaking trial and something very new and unique and works miracles," said Brian.

A TV spot eventually saved Jordyn's life and by appearing in one herself, she hopes it'll help others.

Because of the new clinical trial at St. Jude, researchers say the survival rate for patients like Jordyn has increased from 4 percent to 94 percent.