KOCHI: Kozhikode-resident Anamika (name changed), who has been undergoing treatment for advanced-stage leukaemia at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre (AIMS), was lucky to find a stem cell donor in Germany.
The aid came in response to the requests made by doctors at the stem cell transplant unit at AIMS to Germany-based international registry DKMS and national registry DATRI for a matching donor.
“Anamika was suffering from relapsed acute myeloid leukaemia or bone marrow cancer, and her chances of survival were slim,” said head of the stem cell transplant unit Dr Neeraj Sidharthan.
“So, we suggested allogeneic stem cell transplantation, or transfer of stem cells from a healthy person to save the patient. The efforts bore fruit and a completely matching (human leukocyte antigen count of 10/10) male donor aged 55 was found in Germany,” he said.
Once the match was found, the patient was admitted to the bone marrow transplant unit of the institute for pre-transplant tests and the requisite treatments, ahead of the cell transfusion, including administration of chemotherapeutic drugs to stave off side-effects, as it was an international donor of opposite sex.
Cells were collected from the donor and airlifted from Dusseldorf to Cologne in Germany, and from there to Kochi via Abu Dhabi. It was collected at the airport by a team of doctors and father of the girl, and was transferred to the AIMS.
On the same night, tests were carried out to find out the CD 34+ cell count and the requisite stem cells were transfused on the girl by a team of multi-disciplinary specialists led by Dr Neeraj Sidharthan.
“The patient has been shifted from the bone marrow transplant unit as she did not develop the side effects usually noticed in such cases, and her platelet count was satisfactory,” said Dr Sidharthan.
She is recovering now. According to Dr Sidharthan, almost any healthy person can donate stem cells, as in the case of blood donation.