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Clinical trial offers hope to adults with sickle cell disease

At 33, Alexis Jones-Heggs has known a life filled with “regular crises.”

Times when she was unable to walk or sit up straight or even use her hands to eat. High school graduation, when she’d just gotten out of the hospital and says she “limped all the way across the stage.” Becoming pregnant with her daughter, when some family members feared mightily for her own health.

Yet now, Jones-Heggs hopes, she’s setting a powerful example for people like her with sickle cell disease.

“I feel sort of like a pioneer,” the soft-spoken Jones-Heggs said by phone from Augusta University Health in January, several weeks after undergoing a bone marrow transplant from her sister as a possible cure for the inherited red blood cell disease. “I feel like I’ve opened the door for a lot more people to do this.”