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As a new mother, she didn’t know to look for blue-tinged lips. She could just tell her baby’s color was off. On a chest X-ray, the clean, white-against-dark curves of his ribs were obscured, clouded by fluid. Pneumonia. That tipped Ray Ballard’s physicians off: He had a form of severe combined immunodeficiency — SCID, for short — a genetic mutation that hampered the growth of crucial immune cells, leaving him utterly vulnerable to infection.

The best fix was a transplant of his mother’s bone marrow. “The attitude was that in three to six months, you should be able to go back to normal life,” recalled his mom, Barb Ballard.

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