Rare surgery gives new lease of life to blood cancer patient

A team of doctors at Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) has successfully conducted the first allogenic stem cell transplant in the state,making the hospital the second centre north of Delhi (after PGIMER,Chandigarh) to provide this kind of transplant.

Written by Sameer Kumar Sharma | Ludhiana | Published:February 19, 2009 2:09 am

Phillaur resident goes under the knife at CMCH

A team of doctors at Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) has successfully conducted the first allogenic stem cell transplant in the state,making the hospital the second centre north of Delhi (after PGIMER,Chandigarh) to provide this kind of transplant.

The doctors used the patient’s brother’s stem cells to treat him for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (blood cancer).

The team members who worked on the case kept their fingers crossed for the first 100 days of the procedure as it is considered to be a crucial stage in which infection can mar the efficacy of the procedure.

And 117 days later,33-year-old Binder Pal,who was told by the doctors today that he was now completely safe,walked with an air of confidence around him. “Now I can wear a smile on my face because I know I am going to live,” beamed Binder Pal.

“This is not something unusual. The procedure has been carried out at 15 centres across the country. But since this was the first time we were conducting it in the state,we were watching the condition of the patient very carefully and used the best of our facilities at the hospital to ensure that the patient was not running any risk of infection,” explains Dr Joseph John,consultant haematologist and haemato-oncologist at CMCH.

The team led by Dr Joseph infused stem cells taken from the arm of Binder Pal’s brother to conduct the transplant,in which the stem cells from a relative of the patient are infused into the body of the patient after removing the cancer cells.

Binder Pal from Phillaur worked in a firm at Abu Dhabi in Dubai and was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in June last year.

“I did not have much time or options available. So when the doctors told me that transplant was the only option,I immediately agreed to it,” he said.

The doctors at CMCH treated the disease by first myeloablating (destroying) the patient’s bone marrow to remove the cancer cells and then infusing the stem cells taken from his brother.

The total duration of the procedure took about one month as the patient was kept in the specially-built High Efficient Particle Air (HEPA) filter room for one month,in order to keep the risk of infection at bay. And the Hickman Catheter,which is central line put into the right side of the heart for giving medicines and nutrition — an integral part of the treatment – has also been removed now.

“A lot of care is required to conduct this kind of procedure and the risk of infection should always be avoided at every step. Therefore,the patient is also given pressure-cooked food and is kept in the HEPA filter room all the while,” adds Dr Joseph. With over 100 days after the treatment,Binder is now expecting to get back to work in a short while.

Asked about the cost of treatment,Dr Joseph said the treatment is a little expensive as of now.

“India still provides the treatment at much more affordable price than in the Western countries or the USA. As compared to minimum of Rs 1 to 2 crore cost of treatment in the Indian currency in USA,it is available at roughly between Rs 6-10 lakh in India,depending upon the weight of the patient and complications due to the infection during the transplant,” he elaborates.

“However,it is still a challenge before us. The number of people requiring the transplant is much more than the ones who can afford it. Besides,the HLA matching is also one of the major concerns with us. Hopefully,we will also have cord blood banks in the country to facilitate the stem cell treatment.”

For all the latest Ludhiana News, download Indian Express App

    Live Cricket Scores & Results