New Delhi: It did not matter that she could not understand English or could hardly pronounce ‘cord blood’, Krishna Devi Agarwal was only determined to end the suffering of her 8-year-old granddaughter, suffering from thalassemia since birth.
A resident of Patna in Bihar, the 60-year-old crisscrossed the country and visited countless hospitals during the last seven years until she learnt about stem cell therapy using cord blood which finally relieved Harshita from undergoing regular blood transfusions.
Harshita, a student of Delhi Public School in Patna, underwent a cord blood stem cell transplant last year in a hospital here and till date she has not undergone blood transfusion, a must for thalassemia patients.
“Her grandmother has been very influential in her treatment. She left no stone unturned to get her grand-child get relieved of the disease,” said Mrinalini Chaturvedi, medical director of Cryobanks International India, a private cord blood stem cells banking company that helped save Harshita’s life.
“I never read a newspaper but started going through them looking for some treatment opportunity for my grand daughter. And from one such newspaper I came to know that there is a relief in stem cell. I am thankful to ‘code bulaad (cord blood) kiyaro bank’ for the new lease of life they gave to my child,” she said.
Harshita is the first successful case of treatment of thalassemia child with cord blood stem cell of Cryobanks International India.
Harshita’s parents had stored their new-born son Yuvraj’s cord blood with them which was finally transplanted last year.
“She (Krishna) was confident that she would get Harshita relieved of the disease. She would accompany her to the hospital for blood transfusion. She would strictly follow the doctor’s instructions. She would be present before the doctor whichever day and time he would ask her to be there for Harshita’s treatment. She would voluntarily make an effort to know more about the disease and opportunities for treatment,” said Satya Narayan Agarwal, Harshita’s grandfather.
Army Hospital Research and Referral has also successfully treated many such thalassemic patients with help from bone marrow stem cells. Another private cord blood bank, Life Cell International, has helped in such treatment.
Thalassemia is a genetic blood disorder where the child has defective red blood cells and has to take repeated blood transfusion to survive and maintain hemoglobin levels.
Survival of such people is jeopardised by complications of the organ damage and sever anaemia. They have to take repeated medications to prevent accumulation of iron in the body. According to the ICMR, till date there are over one lakh thalassemic people in the country.