Patient advocate, broadcast professional
His story: Rodrick Murray was 3 months old when he was diagnosed with SCD. This condition became the backdrop of his life, often hindering it. Born in Chicago, he met his second wife, who is from Maryland, in 2002, and in 2005 he moved to the state, home of NIH. Murray went to a sickle cell convention in Washington, D.C., and ran into many people involved with the research. After that, he participated in several clinical trials. In June 2015, he went through the gene therapy protocol that changed his life. “I’m feeling good. My numbers [hemoglobin, blood iron] are good!”
Murray has a son, 21, and a daughter, 19. Both have the sickle cell trait.
Unimaginable hurdle: For Murray, the hardest part was to always be the “sickly kid.” As we hear often from sickle cell patients, Murray disliked “the fact that I wasn’t able to participate in some of the normal experiences everyone else enjoyed, such as playing sports.”
How he survived: The answer is quick and clear, “my faith in God and the love and support of my family and friends.”
Aha moment: He learned about the gene therapy study from a doctor at NIH. “I talked to Dr. [John] Tisdale. He said that I would be the first person in the United States to do it, and I said, ‘all right, let’s go.’ I signed up before I talked to my family.”
His motivator: “The treatment could possibly change the face of medicine. I knew it could go wrong, too. But it had to start with someone; why not me?”
His dream: “I am looking forward to the second half of my life. I want to go out and talk to people and share my story with them.” This has already begun. “I tell everyone I know to work with NIH and to participate in clinical trials. It has to happen. Research has to be done.”