At age 15, Caesar Sant is already an accomplished violinist. But his journey has not been easy: Caesar was born with sickle cell disease, a blood disorder that causes red blood cells to become shaped like crescent moons instead of the typical discs. These abnormal cells restrict blood flow to the rest of the body and can cause grueling pain and even stroke. Caesar experienced both, and fought back for years. Then in September 2021, relief. He successfully received a bone marrow transplant at NIH. The procedure, the only known cure for sickle cell disease, helped unloose Caesar’s enormous talent. In 2022, he performed for over 3,000 people at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and is now composing his first concerto.

Fast fact: Sickle cell disease affects over 100,000 Americans and 20 million people globally, and it disproportionally affects African Americans.

Sweet inspiration. Caesar and his family recall tough times in the week after his transplant in The Children’s Inn at NIH. He endured shivering fevers, but sticking to a routine helped keep him motivated. In the mornings he often practiced his violin and played chess. “The doctor always came to play chess with me,” says Caesar. “I really like how he spent time with me and talked to Papa.” 

Big impact. Just two weeks after his transplant, Caesar was walking up and down stairs and impressing the staff, which he credits for giving him all he needed for a speedy recovery. Caesar’s father, Lucas Sant, says it seemed like every doctor and nurse at NIH was competing to be nicer than the other. “They treated him so well.” 

Bright future. Next year, the Sant family is moving to Delaware to be closer to NIH so Caesar can return for checkups. The move also will put him closer to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where Caesar hopes to train to become a virtuoso violist and composer. 

To learn more about Caesar’s incredible journey, be sure to check out Lucas Sant’s upcoming book, “AN INSPIRATIONAL STORY: The Gifted Caesar Sant Rising Above The Odds.” The book is pending sponsorship to be released, but you can follow updates at