First bone marrow transplant performed in Nashik

November 23, 2010


The city’s first bone marrow transplant has been performed successfully in the district by a leading haematologist on a woman.Bone marrow transplant is a complex procedure like Kidney and liver transplantation and is a boon for patients suffering from various diseases like Thalassemia, Blood Cancer, Myeloma and Lymphomo, Dr Pritesh Junagade, who is also haemato-oncologist, told reporters last night.”The 21-year-old woman from Sangamner, who underwent the procedure, had a plastic anaemia and she needed regular blood and platelet transfusion to keep her alive. Her brother was tested to see if his bone marrow matched. It did and the marrow was removed from the donor and placed in the patient,” he said adding four weeks later, the patients blood count was normal.Dr Junagade, who was in London for seven years and returned to Nashik, said the transplant was carried out successfully at the cost of Rs 5.5 lakh.

A girl who was brought into the world to save her brother

August 27, 2010


This Raksha Bandhan will be the Bhavsar family’s most memorable yet. Their two-year old daughter Richa, who is also the saviour of her elder brother’s life, will tie him a rakhi in what will be his first truly happy festive celebration till date. While most parents will smile on this day, the Bhavsars will shed a silent tear of happiness as their last bundle of joy asks for health and happiness for the brother who owes her his life.

Richa, the Bhavsars’ youngest child, was brought into the world with the hope that she might save her brother from dying. Urvish, the family’s second child and presently seven-years old, was diagnosed with blood cancer at the age of four. Already a thalassemia major, the only way he could be saved was a bone marrow transplant from a sibling.

Little Richa proved the perfect biological match for her brother. Peripheral blood cells were collected from her blood and a stem cell transplant was undertaken on Urvish. The boy underwent a series of chemotherapy sessions and later, a bone marrow transplant in June. The procedure has borne positive results for Urvish. While his blood cells earlier had XY (male) chromosomes, they now have XX (female) chromosomes, which means that the blood flowing in his body is from his own sister Richa!

Dr Sandeep Shah, head of the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) department at Gujarat Cancer Research Institute (GCRI), said that this is a medical miracle where a child has been successfully treated for two major illnesses. Urvish’s blood samples show that the transplant has worked. And he will be cured of both thalassemia and cancer.

“However, he is still admitted at the hospital and has currently developed pneumonia. We wish that along with Richa’s bone marrow which cured him, her best wishes now take him towards good health and speedy recovery,” said Shah, adding that by next Raksha Bandhan, the boy is expected to have completely normalised.

Umang Bhavsar, who runs an optical accessories store in Naroda, was shattered when Urvish was diagnosed with blood cancer, after already being a thalassemia patient since he was three months old.The desperate parents, who were told that a sibling with a bone marrow matching Urvish’s would be the only hope, decided to have a third offspring (their first child’s bone marrow didn’t match with her brother’s).

However, their agony was compounded by the fact that Urvish’s younger brother Harsh, now five, didn’t prove a match. “Finally, in sheer desperation, we planned a fourth child, in the hope that we might prove lucky this time, and get a child who will save Urvish’s life,” said Umang. Richa proved a saviour, as her bone marrow matched 100 per cent with her brother’s.

Dr Shah from GCRI said that so far, 118 BMTs have been done in GCRI, of which six were also cord blood transplants. “However, Urvish’s case is the rarest of all as he was cured of both cancer and thalassemia. And success in his case has inspired us to surge ahead with similar others.”

Singing for a cause

July 30, 2010


Top corporate bosses lend their hand for a noble cause. At a fundraiser organised by Genesis Foundation this past week, aptly titled ‘CEOs Sing for their Supper’, CEOs from nine blue chip companies performed at the Crowne Plaza Today in Gurgaon.

It was indeed a music show with a difference as corporate bigwigs strummed their guitars and showcased their singing prowess before an enthused weekend audience. It also went on to prove that academic merit and professional success could in no way inhibit creative sensibilities developed during student days. Moreover, it also underlined the fact that commitment to social causes remained high on the priority of people who have managed to climb the success ladder.

At a fundraiser organised by Genesis Foundation this past week, aptly titled ‘CEOs Sing for their Supper’, CEOs from nine blue chip companies performed at the Crowne Plaza Today in Gurgaon. The aim was to collect money to be utilised to save the lives of critically ill children who are either orphans or come from less privileged families. The Foundation was formed with an avowed objective to provide financial support and medical intervention for critically ill orphans or children whose family income is less than Rs.5000 per month, with the focus area of support being cancer, heart, organ failure, thalassemia and extreme deformities.

Amongst those who performed during the evening were Niren Chaudhary, CEO, Yum Restaurants, Geetu Verma, Executive Director, PepsiCo India, Gopal Sarma, MD, Feedback Ventures and Shireesh Joshi, Director Marketing, Airtel. It was an eclectic mix of Hindi and English numbers, although, almost all were of an earlier vintage, something that went to prove that current genre of music has not been able to etch a permanent place in the heart of these music aficionados. It was an exciting format where the guests judged each performance and the winner selected a partner to join him/her in a grand supper.

The Foundation’s Goodwill Ambassador, Parvathy Omanakuttan, Miss India 2008, compered the event. Around 120 people purchased a place at the table for Supper in the effort to help raise funds to save the lives of nine children.

Help at Last

July 14, 2010


Novartis Oncology helps cancer patients have long-term access to life-extending therapies through its Glivec International Patient Assistance Program (GIPAP), one of the most comprehensive and far-reaching cancer patient access programs ever implemented on a global scale.

Since its introduction in 2002, GIPAP has provided the breakthrough treatment Glivec (imatinib) at cost to more than 35,000 cancer patients in more than 80 countries. Glivec is a proven-effective treatment for Philadelphia positive chronic myeloid leukemia (Ph+CML) and gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). GIPAP and the Novartis Oncology Program (NOA) have helped provide Glivec to over 1,400 socially disadvantaged Filipino cancer patients.

From 2006 to 2008 alone, benefits provided by the NOA program to Filipino patients are valued at over P2 billion. This innovative program is being implemented in more than 65 participating centers across the archipelago. Today, GIPAP has evolved into the broader NOA program which continues to serve Filipino patients already enrolled in GIPAP and an additional 120-plus more nationwide.

Another life-saving treatment developed by Novartis Oncology is Exjade (deferasirox). Exjade is used for the treatment of chronic iron overload due to frequent blood transfusions in patients aged six and older with beta thalassemia major. This is an inherited blood disorder that causes severe anemia and bone deformities. Untreated, it can lead to death before the age of 20.

Novartis is exploring ways to increase Filipino patients’ access to thalassemia treatments.

Stem cells infuse new life into 7-yr-old

June 18, 2010


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.

Plan to make Kolkata thalassemia-free by 2015

May 15, 2010

Courtesy by:

A Kolkata-based cancer research institute announced here on Friday the launch of a campaign that would entail blood testing and counselling of about 2.6 lakh school and college students over the next five years, with a view to spreading awareness about thalassemia among them as part of its attempts to eradicate the disease from the city by 2015 Titled “Zero Thalassemia Growth Rate in Kolkata by year 2015,” the project is supported by the Kolkata Police, the Rotary Club and the Medical Bank and was kicked off on Saturday — World Thalassemia Day.

Ashish Mukhopadhyay, medical director of the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Cancer Research Institute, says about 10 per cent of the city’s population are thalassemia carriers and the number can multiply in geometric progression unless marriage between two carriers is prevented.

Testing times

May 15, 2010

Courtesy by:

When Martina Navratilova was diagnosed with breast cancer recently, her first reaction was — ‘Why me?’ She was, after all, “a lifelong athlete, strong, healthy, and had eaten nutritionally all her life”, which made accepting the situation that much harder. But Martina was lucky that her cancer was caught early. Yet, the tennis great admitted she’s partly to blame because she went four years without a mammogram check-up. “Another year and I could have been in trouble,” she reportedly said.

Despite your best efforts, you may not be always able prevent diseases, but you can ensure speedy recovery by diagnosing them early. So even if you are the superwoman — trying to juggle between varied responsibilities — spare some time for yourself and get a few tests done.

In your 20s and 30s

What: A tried and tested way to test cervical cancer (caused by Human Papilloma Virus — HPV). Pap smear is a swab of cells taken from your cervix that is tested for any abnormalities.
When: Ideally, from the time you get sexually active. If you’ve had several normal Paps in a row and a negative HPV test, get tested every other year. Else, if you have multiple sexual partners, are a smoker or have any other disease, get tested every year.

A precursor to HPV test is the cervical cancer vaccine which is being recommended for girls from 12 onwards. This greatly reduces the risk of cervical cancer.
FACTOID: India reports approximately one fourth of the world’s cases of cervical cancer each year.

Pre-pregnancy tests
What: Tests to ensure good health of your baby. Tests for thalassemia and German measles (Rubella) top the list. Thalassemia is generally passed on from parents to children, hence it’s best to get tested beforehand. It is a simple blood test that picks up the levels of haemoglobin. People who have thalassemia have problems with the alpha or beta globin protein chains of haemoglobin. Similarly a rubella test detects anti-bodies to the rubella virus in a sample of blood. If exposed to rubella, you could get afflicted and transmit it to the baby.
When: Pre-pregnancy or immediately after marriage.
FACTOID: Reportedly, one out of every 25 Indians is a carrier of thalassemia.

What: With increasing cases of fibroids, endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a sonography must feature in your regular test-list. Often these diseases are asymptomatic and a routine sonography can detect a number of irregularities. A pelvic sonography also gives a clearer picture of two cancers — of the uterus and that of the ovary.
When: Once in your mid-20s. If the results are clear, you can defer it for three years. But after 40, do it every year because the risk factors shoot up.
FACTOID: It is estimated that the incidence of endometriosis is about 5 – 20 per cent.

Other tests
What: Tests for lipid profile, cholesterol and diabetes. With increasing incidents of heart problems among women too, go for regular testing of cholesterol levels and lipid profile. Ditto for diabetes, especially if you are detected with high cholesterol. And if you are slightly overweight, a thyroid test is a must.
When: Begin these in your mid-30s. 40s and beyond

What: Regardless of whether you feel a lump in your breast or not, a mammography and a sonography should be done every year after 40.

CA 125 test
What: A blood test that is also a tumor-marker, designed to detect ovarian tumours. Include this aspect too with your sonography.
FACTOID: In India, one in 22 women is likely to suffer from breast cancer in her lifetime.

Bone density test
What: A test to find out whether you’re at risk for osteoporosis.
When: Any stage but especially at the menopausal or the perimenopausal phase. It determines the density, thickness and strength of the bones as an osteoporosis-afflicted patient is extremely prone to fracture. If detected early, specific treatments are available.
FACTOID: An estimated 300 million plus people in India suffer from osteoporosis.

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