Bone marrow transplant has over the last few years come as a boon for many suffering from blood diseases like leukemia and thalassemia, which earlier had no cure.
Speaking at a press conference here on Tuesday, doctors said since November 2004, they have conducted many successful operations. Blood diseases are either genetic or acquired due to exposure to several risk factors including a hazardous environment or consumption of adulterated food, said Dr Sharat Damodar. He heads the bone marrow transplant unit at Narayana Health City. The hospital has performed more than 300 such transplants.
Dr Damodar said bone marrow transplants have high success rates now for patients with these painful and fatal diseases.
Moh Shukija was diagnosed with thalassemia when she was just six months old. It had started with fever, weight loss and paleness.
When this continued for over two weeks, doctors did tests which confirmed that she was thalassemia positive. Her father Ginni Xanders said, “The fever refused to subside, and she kept losing weight. When it was confirmed that my daughter had thalassemia, we immediately started with blood transfusion on a monthly basis. Meanwhile, I was not satisfied with the doctor treating her. We took her to CMC Vellore who then referred us to Narayana Health City”, Xanders said.
“At Narayana Health, we were advised to go for a bone marrow transplant as the life expectancy for thalassemia patients undergoing blood transfusion is just 20-25 years. Our elder daughter Pia was tested, and when the doctors found that her bone marrow was matching, Moh underwent the transplant. She was seven years old then,” he said. “It has been almost two years following the transplant and Moh is doing fine. Except for immunosuppressants, she is off all other medication,” he said.
Another patient, a 30-year-old teacher, was admitted in 2006 with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) with the only option being a bone marrow transplant. Luckily, her sister’s bone marrow matched and the patient underwent the transplant, which has cured her completely. She is doing perfectly well, said her doctors.
The doctors said finding donors in India is a challenge.
“It must become a social responsibility to volunteer for donating healthy bone marrow and help patients in need”, Dr Damodar said.