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Grateful Patient Brings His Troupe to NIH

By Dianne Needham

Musical-drama group Jeunes Agape ("young unconditional love") will appear on stage in the Clinical Center's Masur Auditorium at noon on Thursday, Sept. 2. The award-winning youth choir, with more than 50 members ranging in age from 7 years to their early twenties, hails from Point Fortin, Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies. The group is celebrating its 10-year anniversary but is also coming to NIH to celebrate their lead choreographer's life.

Jeunes Agape performed at the Trinidad & Tobago Music Festival in March 2004.

Ian Baptiste, 24, is a musician and dancer from Port-of-Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago. About a year ago, he was feeling ill with bleeding gums, exhaustion, headaches and other symptoms. A local physician sent him to a hematologist who diagnosed severe aplastic anemia, a bone marrow disease in which no red or white blood cells or platelets are being produced. Baptiste was referred to NIH for further evaluation. He learned he needed a blood stem cell transplant to survive; his identical twin brother Deon, also a choreographer and member of Jeunes Agape, was identified as the suitable donor. The successful procedure took place on Christmas Eve 2003. To Ian, it was his experience on the blood and marrow transplant 2-West unit that makes Jeunes Agape's NIH visit a natural followup to his stay here.

"I want to do this concert in appreciation for my NIH medical treatment, for it being successful and all. The staff was very welcoming and warm. They know I am a musician and dancer. I want them to be able to see me doing this. They saw me when I was sick," he said.

Identical twins Deon Baptiste (l) and Ian Baptiste are members of the musical-drama group Jeunes Agape. Ian, a Clinical Center patient, was the recipient of Deon's blood donor stem cells in a successful transplant procedure conducted at NIH.

Jeunes Agape performs contemporary, calypso, folk, gospel and classical music. While in Washington, D.C., they will also appear at the Kennedy Center. Mark your calendar to join them Sept. 2 as they salute their Caribbean-island heritage and give thanks to NIH for one of their own. For more information contact the NIH Visitor Information Center at (301) 496-1776.

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