Often it falls to big brothers to protect their younger brothers. In Zayed’s case, it was his little brother who saved him from a lifetime of regular blood transfusions.

As an infant, Zayed was diagnosed with a blood disorder called beta thalassemia. In addition to requiring blood transfusions every 2-4 weeks, the condition can result in decreased appetite, increased risk of infections and delayed growth.

By the time Zayed was about 4 years old, his parents had had another baby — Mohamed — and saved the newborn’s placenta stem cells at a private cord blood bank in their native United Arab Emirates. The family decided the time was right to bring Zayed to the United States — eventually to The Johns Hopkins Hospital — for care.

They had a consultation with Kenneth Cooke, Johns Hopkins’ director of pediatric bone marrow transplantation. Dr. Cooke explored the possibility of performing a blood stem cell transplant, a procedure that replaces defective blood-forming cells with healthy cells. If successful, the transplant could cure Zayed’s condition.

Watch this video of how life-altering treatment at Johns Hopkins has led two brothers and their family to what Dr. Cooke calls “happily ever after.”

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