Leah was recently diagnosed with a serious disease that is the result of a complication from stem cell transplants, her father said. As he has often done during Leah's cancer fight, Devon Still took to Instagram to share the update.
I need some prayers sent up for Leah tonight! We hit a pretty serious complication from the stem cell transplant called VOD. They caught it early so hopefully it gives the doctors a better chance of stopping it from getting aggressive. As you can imagine our minds are all over the place but we're going to try and remain positive! #LeahStrong #WaitingForTheDayEverythingReturnsToNormal
According to the American Cancer Society, VOD, or Hepatic veno-occlusive disease, occurs when tiny veins and other blood vessels inside the liver become blocked. It happens only in people with allogeneic transplants, and primarily in those who received two types of drugs, busulfan or melphalan, as part of their post-cancer recovery.
VOD can be more common in older people who had liver problems before the transplant, according to the ACS. It can result in liver failure and death. The disease's reported incidence in children who have undergone stem cell transplantation is between five and more than 60 percent, according to Medscape.
Leah Still turned 5 earlier this month and is less than a week shy of the anniversary of her initial diagnosis of neuroblastoma, a pediatric cancer that originally left her with a 50/50 survival percentage. In late March, Still announced via Instagram that she was officially in remission, although she had to go through stem cell treatments to help get her immune system back to normal.
Leah's story dominated the sports landscape in the fall when the Bengals were joined by other NFL teams in raising funds and awareness for pediatric cancers. Last November, the Bengals donated more than $1.2 million to pediatric cancer research initiatives based on a sale of Still's black No. 75 jersey. Last month, Leah, who has been receiving all her treatments at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, gave the opening coin toss during Temple's spring game. Players even let her catch a pass and run for a touchdown during the game.
While sticking close to his daughter's side during her recovery, Still hasn't attended the Bengals' offseason workouts. The team began organized team activities Tuesday, but, as expected, he didn't attend.