BENGALURU: In a rare feat, parents and doctors used IVF (In vitro fertilization) and preimplantation genetic testing to birth a baby, with matching HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen), so she could donate bone marrow to her 6-year-old brother suffering from thalassemia major, an inherited blood disorder. Haemoglobin enables red blood cells to carry oxygen in the body but thalassemia causes low haemoglobin levels and also causes patients to have anaemia.
Abhijeet was born in 2013 and was diagnosed with thalassemia major. His symptoms include paleness, irritability, improper growth etc. He required frequent blood transfusions and underwent 80 of them since he was born.The only cure was to conduct a bone marrow transplant. Abhijeet’s elder sibling and parents did not have a matching HLA, which is necessary to match patients and donors for transplants. HLA are proteins or markers that the immune system uses to recognize which cells belong to your body, and which do not.
His father, Sahdev Singh Solanki, himself did research to find treatment options and came across the term “Saviour Sibling”, after which he approached doctors at Nova IVF Fertility in Ahmedabad, to save his son.
Dr Manish Banker, Medical Director, Nova IVF Fertility, said,“Sperm and eggs are used to create embryos. Once it grows for five days, it is sent for testing to check if the embryo has Thalassemia Major, has matching HLA and genetic testing is done to rule out any other complications. In all, 18 embryos were biopsied of which only one embryo was found to have matching HLA, normal on preimplantation genetic testing for monogenic diseases (PGT M), and was thus transferred successfully in its very first cycle.”
This resulted in a successful pregnancy, delivering a healthy baby girl, Kavya, who was found to be 10/10 HLA match with the sibling. This is possibly one of the first saviour siblings born in India, through IVF for this purpose. Sahdev said, “We consulted many doctors, but nobody could assure successful transplantation. I decided to do whatever it takes to save my child. I researched and went through a pile of medical journals and case studies of similar cases to come up with something that can save my child.”