Belly-Button Brothers

Stem cells from umbilical cords saved their lives

When their 11-month-old son Layne died abruptly of liver failure after an infection with Epstein-Barr virus in 1994, Theresa and Scott LaRue were devastated. Layne, it turned out, had a rare inherited disorder that severely compromised his immune system. And when doctors at the UCLA Medical Center tested the three other LaRue children, two were found to be similarly afflicted.

As the disease's tongue-twisting name implies, instead of simply dispatching an invading virus--like the one that killed Layne--X-linked lymphoproliferative syndrome (XLP) allows white blood cells (including lymphocytes) to grow unchecked, destroying vital organs like the liver, lymph glands and spleen. Inherited...

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