B+ve to A+ve, he beats thalassemia

Courtesy by: timesofindia

AHMEDABAD: Exactly 49 days ago, Harshil Nanda was a severely ill thalassemic patient with B positive blood group. Today, he is a healthy infant with A positive blood group and a confirmed evidence of how stem cell transplant can cure thalassemia.

The change in his blood group is in fact proof that Harshil’s procedure, the country’s second stem cell transplant from umbilical cord blood of a stranger child received from a private bank, has worked.

Harshil’s rapid recovery has cheered stem cell transplant surgeons at Gujarat Cancer Research Institute (GCRI) where the first such transplant was performed nearly a year ago.

“This means that unrelated umbilical stem cell transplant can be termed as an established treatment. As they say, first success could be luck but second is science,” said director of bone marrow transplant department at GCRI Dr Sandip A Shah. The transplant was assisted by Dr Kinnari Patel and Dr Kamlesh Shah.

The first success story was of Rishi, a thalassemic major child from Kutch, who was cured by umbilical cord stem cells transplanted from an unrelated donor as he did not have siblings. Harshil is also the only child of his parents.

“While it took three months in Rishi for the donor blood cells to completely take over and change his blood group, Harshil has recovered within two months,” said Dr Shah.

For children without siblings and suffering from thalassemia, aplastic anaemia and similar blood problems, this is good news. The success rate of such transplants is 70 per cent.

Doctors are now poised to perform a third unrelated umbilical cord stem cell transplant. “The third patient is a girl called Zeel, who has got Rs 10 lakh as donation from Bollywood star Ajay Devgan to perform the transplant,” said Dr Shah.

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