Skip to Main Content

H.T. Begay is a happy kid. He’s smiley, silly, and definitely trying to make you laugh. The four-year-old’s two neat braids of dark hair wave behind him as he runs among the dust, dogs, and sheep near his family’s ranch on their Navajo reservation in Arizona.

On a table inside the family’s sweat lodge is a little altar, as shown in a video shared by the University of California, San Francisco. Next to a pair of tiny baby booties is a certificate that reads, “The first patient in the world to receive Autologous Gene Therapy for Artemis-deficient SCID 06/23/2018.”


Even though he was born without an immune system, H.T. can play with “all those animals and the diseases that those animals carry” and be completely fine, his doctor Morton Cowan says with a chuckle. That’s thanks to a new gene therapy that corrected the mutated gene called Artemis that prevented H.T. from being able to form T cells and B cells.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free!


Create a display name to comment

This name will appear with your comment

There was an error saving your display name. Please check and try again.