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Clinical Center News
Winter 2022

Concert unites Clinical Center patient and staff in music

CC Concert with treatment team
Some members of the team that provided Caesar's care. Dr. Matthew Hsieh (third from the left) was the principal physician for Caesar's transplant.
Left- Dr. Francis Collins, Center- Caesar Sant, Right- Robert Masi
Dr. Francis Collins (left), Caesar Santos and Robert Masi on piano
 
Caesar Santos performing in the NIH CC
13-year old Caesar Santos performing in the NIH Clinical Center. After Santos suffered multiple strokes beginning at age four, he had to relearn how to play the violin.
 

As the sweet sounds of the ballad "Hallelujah" wafted through the NIH Clinical Center's atrium, there were some damp eyes and all were reminded just how amazing this place is.

A Thanksgiving-week concert featured 13-year old Caesar Santos on violin, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins on guitar and National Cancer Institute Post-baccalaureate fellow Robert Masi on piano. The pieces ranged from classical to spiritual.

Santos' musical talents emerged early; he began playing the violin when he was two years old. He almost lost his life to sickle cell disease and after suffering multiple strokes beginning at age four, had to relearn how to play the violin each time. But he defines resilience, and in September Santos received a bone marrow transplant from his sister at the NIH in a clinical trial in the Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics Laboratory led by Dr. John Tisdale of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Santos is now on the road to recovery and is happy to show off the pink color that has returned to his hands and lips as the donor bone marrow is taking root and his sickle cell disease is fading away. Through his music, Santos and his family wanted to thank the hospital staff for all the help they have received during these challenging times.

Collins noted, "Though Caesar will need to continue rehabilitation from the effects of the strokes, I am heartened to know that he will go on to bless so many others with his extraordinary gifts."

"Caesar's story is a stirring reminder of the fragility of human life and the gift of medical research. Here at NIH, we have the privilege of delivering that gift every day."

Learn more about Caesar's experience as a clinical trial participant in the NIH Record article: Young SCA Patient Is Pain-Free Following Transplant.

- Debbie Accame

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