Stem cells infuse new life into 7-yr-old

Courtesy: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

AHMEDABAD: It was double whammy for little Urvish Bhavsar. Born with thalassemia major, a serious blood disorder which requires regular blood transfusion, he was later diagnosed with blood cancer also. And now he is cured of both!

Urvish, 7, recently underwent stem cell transplant where peripheral stem cells from his sister’s blood were collected and transplanted in him.

The procedure has turned out to be successful as his blood cells now show XX chromosomes which basically mean that the new blood in his body is from a girl — in his case, his two-and-half-year-old sister Richa!

“This is one of the rarest cases where a child has been successfully treated for two major illnesses. Urvish’s blood samples show that the transplant has worked. He will be cured of both thalassemia and cancer,” said Dr Sandeep Shah, head of the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) department at Gujarat Cancer Research Institute (GCRI). It has been 28 days since the transplant and he is recuperating at GCRI. His mother Sunanda can’t believe that her seven-year-long struggle has ended.

“Urvish was diagnosed with thalassemia major when he was three months old. We had a tough time going through his blood transfusions. When he joined kindergarten he was diagnosed with blood cancer. We were shattered but decided to go ahead with the treatment as we had to do everything possible to save his life,” says Sunanda. Urvish’s father Umang runs an optical accessories store in Naroda. The Bhavsars had discussed stem cell transplant as a treatment for thalassemia but had to wait as the elder daughter was not a match. Meanwhile Urvish was put through chemotherapy.

Once that was over, it was decided that stem cell transplant would be the best treatment for both illnesses. Moreover, his younger sister Richa was found to match as a donor and the transplant was done successfully. “Despite being in and out of hospitals ever since he was born, he scored 95 per cent marks in class I. He loves going to school,” said an elated Sunanda. Dr Kirti Patel, acting director of GCRI, said that so far 112 BMTs have been done in GCRI of which six were also cord blood transplants. “Cases like Urvish’s are rare and give us the impetus to surge ahead,” said Dr Patel.

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