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By Dianne Needham
Photos by Ernie Branson
Sounds of calypso and African, West Indian and South African folk music filled the air and colors of the Caribbean swirled on stage Sept. 2 when the Trinidad and Tobago-based musical-drama group Jeunes Agape ("young unconditional love") performed before a packed audience in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. The performance was a tribute of thanks to the NIH physicians, researchers and health care professionals who saved the life of one of the group's members Ian Baptiste.
Ian and his identical twin brother, Deon, performed with Jeunes Agape to show their gratitude to the medical team who treated and cared for them. "This is our gift to NIH," said Ian. He became ill last year with severe aplastic anemia at his home in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and was referred to NIH. Once here, doctors realized he would need a blood stem cell transplant and the procedure was done last Christmas Eve. The Jeunes Agape performance was exactly 1 year to the day when Ian first came to the Clinical Center for treatment.
Clinical Center director Dr. John Gallin welcomed attendees, remarking, "It is not often in the midst of our busy work schedules we have the opportunity to embrace art and life together...today we celebrate the art the music and dance of Trinidad and Tobago and the life of Ian."
NHLBI Hematology Branch chief Dr. Neal Young and NHLBI stem cell allotransplantation section chief Dr. John Barrett also addressed the audience. Young said the NIH medical team knows they were able to help Ian and Deon but notes that NIH also benefits from the twins. "We gained as physicians and nurses from the rare experience of undertaking a twin transplant and as scientists from access to Ian and his brother's cells for lymphocyte attack on their bone marrow cell targets."
Barrett described how the NHLBI blood and marrow transplant team frequently has to deal with tragic and life-threatening illnesses affecting people in the prime of life. "It has been inspiring to witness the courage and calmness of people such as Ian faced with life-threatening illness, and a privilege to have been given their trust in undergoing difficult and dangerous as well as novel treatment procedures. And we should not forget stem cell donors such as Deon who selflessly put themselves through the discomfort and inconvenience of stem cell donation in order to provide a unique gift of life to the patient."
The Jeunes Agape performance may be viewed at videocast.nih.gov. Under Past Events, select "Celebrating Art and Life Musical-Drama Group Jeunes Agape Performs at NIH."
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