The first child to be diagnosed with severe combined immunodeficiency (also known as “bubble baby disease”) thanks to a neonatal screening programme introduced by the Catalan Ministry of Health in 2017 has undergone a successful transplant procedure and is now cured. Thirteen-month-old Derek was born with no immune system, a severe, life-threatening disorder. After an umbilical cord blood transplantation performed at Vall d’Hebron Hospital, he now has a functioning immune system and can lead a normal life.
At a press conference held at the hospital, the Minister of Health, Alba Vergés, said that in 2017, with her predecessor, Toni Comín: “We were the first public healthcare system in Europe to introduce neonatal screening for this disorder.” The heel-prick test is now used to detect severe combined immunodeficiency in newborns in the first 48 hours of life. In March 2018, Derek was the first child in whom the disorder was detected using this test.
Minister Vergés said: “Cases like Derek’s show that we have outstanding professionals and a great public health system. As political leaders, we have to work to improve the system, and how better than by introducing programmes like this one, which helps save lives and makes us proud of our health system.”
Vall d’Hebron Hospital is Catalonia’s top medical facility for the diagnosis and treatment of children with severe combined immunodeficiency.