Narayana Health City treated Thalassemia patients through unrelated donor BMT

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The doctors sourced matching bone marrow cells from across the world and carried out the transplants at Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at the Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre, Narayana Health City

Narayana Health City treats four Sri Lankan children suffering from thalassemia major, a life-threatening disorder, through unrelated donor bone marrow transplant. The doctors sourced matching bone marrow cells from unrelated donors from across the world and carried out the transplants at Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at the Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre, Narayana Health City. Patients included, 15 months old Nethumi Shenaya Rajapaksha Bomaluwe, four-year-old Suwini Umeda Shreemali Balasooriya, five-year-old Purna and ten-year-old Mithun Dilesh Welgamage.

The team could find matching donors for all four children. While Suwini and Purna found saviours in Datri Registry (India), the other two found matching donors from German Registry (DKMS) in London.

Elaborating about the treatment, Dr Sunil Bhat, Senior Consultant and Head of Paediatric Haematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant at Narayana Health City, said, “Apart from finding human leukocyte antigen (HLA) matched donors for all the four children the biggest challenge was to ensure acceptance of the stem cells by the recipient’s system. In unrelated bone marrow transplant, unlike in related donors, the genetic makeup and immune systems in the recipient and the donor are very different. Hence the chances for complications both during and post-transplant are very high. Fortunately, in the case of these children their body responded very positively to the transplant and that has helped us to cure them of thalassemia major. He also pointed out that the chances of finding matched donors are far better from same ethnic background. As there are no unrelated donor registries in Sri Lanka, finding a donor for them is a challenge”

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