Health enthusiast, hip-hop artist
His story: When Ugonna Anyadike, a 29-year-old Baltimore, Maryland resident, grew up, he lived a normal life. This included playing sports, including football, and not thinking about sickle cell disease. “It was a good life, but once I got into college it was not the same,” he said. This is when frequent pain crises sent him to the hospital three to five times a year.
The turning point: In 2018, Anyadike spent 21 days in the hospital for severe chest pain. “It was a very limiting life,” he said. After that, he explored different treatment options, which led him to a clinical research trial at the NIH. In 2022, he received a bone marrow transplant from his younger brother, who was a 100% match. Now, his body can produce normal blood cells.
Modern medicine: “I thought this is modern medicine at work,” said Anyadike. “This is wonderful.” Growing up, he didn’t realize curative therapies for sickle cell disease existed. “It’s definitely been a success,” he shared.
Life after the transplant: “I am physically and visibly healthier,” said Anyadike. “I feel better.” The process wasn’t easy, but it changed his life, he explained. “Now I can do anything.”
Hope for the future: Previously, Anyadike took one day at time. Would he be in the hospital? How long did he have to live? Now, a year after the transplant, he’s thinking about the future. This includes revisiting old dreams and current passions, including sports and music, while envisioning new possibilities. “Do I want a family? What are my dreams? What would I do if I could do anything?” he explained. “It’s figuring out what I want out of life now that is has more to offer me.”
Words to live by: Going from having a normal life to living with a chronic illness for 10 years can be tough, said Anyadike. This is why he encourages others to take care of their physical and mental health. “You have to take care of your mind, body, and heart,” he explained.