Austin Spencer

About Austin

In June 2013, the summer before Austin’s junior year in high school, he became ill and was diagnosed with mono. After his condition continued to worsen, he was placed in the hospital where further testing enabled them to make a diagnosis of HLH (Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis).

HLH is a disorder of the immune system in which too many infection-fighting cells are produced and activated, causing damage to organs. Treatment was started to get the HLH under control. Austin was then also diagnosed with XLP2 (X-linked lymphoproliferative disease). This is a rare disorder of the immune system and blood-forming cells caused by XIAP gene mutations. The only cure for XLP2 and for recurring HLH is a bone marrow transplant.

Austin received his bone marrow transplant on January 15th, 2014 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC). His donor was a generous stranger from Germany. The bone marrow transplant caused Austin to have a compromised immune system similar to that of a newborn. He needed to quarantine and limit exposure because any illness could have been critical to his health. After nearly a year of limited contact and living in Cincinnati, Austin was able to return to Illinois and his high school to finish his senior year.

At this time, Austin is fully recovered and considered to have a “normal” immune system. He graduated with a computer science degree from Arizona State University in May, 2022. He currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with his wife, Gretchen and works remotely as an AI & ML Engineer at CNA Insurance. – See more HERE