Sister gives bone marrow,provides lifeline to thalassaemic twins

When they were barely a year old,twins Shubh and Shlokh Mhatre were diagnosed with thalassaemia major.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Published:September 14, 2012 1:35 am

When they were barely a year old,twins Shubh and Shlokh Mhatre were diagnosed with thalassaemia major. For over two years,they had to undergo painful blood transfusions every month. Till their 11-year-old sister Shruti stepped in as their lifeline recently,donating 400 ml of her bone marrow.

On Monday,Shubh,now three-and-a-half years old,was discharged after a successful bone marrow transplant on August 19. His twin,Shlokh,received the bone marrow on May 28 and was dicharged within a month.

Shruti,a Class VII student at Kendriya Vidyalaya,says she was initially scared of the injection. “I don’t know what happened after that,” she says.

Her parents feel blessed to have her as their daughter. Her father Shashikant Mhatre is an employee at the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC),Chakan.

“We were overjoyed when we had twins after a long gap. Little did we realise what was in store for us,” recalls her mother Jyoti.

At nine months,Shlokh developed fever,and symptomatic treatment failed to help him. After a thorough investigation,he was diagnosed to be suffering from thalassaemia major — a serious genetic blood disorder characterised by the defective production of haemoglobin.

On the advice of doctors,the tests were also carried out on Shubh,who too was found to be suffering from the disease.

With the cycle of blood transfusions draining their financial resources,the distraught parents saw a ray of hope when Shruti’s human leukocyte antigen (HLA) was

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Sister gives bone marrow,provides lifeline to thalassaemic twins

found to match that of her brothers,thus clearing the path for a bone marrow transplant.

Dr Vijay Ramanan,consultant haematologist and founder of the bone marrow and stem cell transplant centre at Ruby Hall Clinic where the transplants were carried out,said even Shruti has the thalassaemia trait passed on by her parents. But thalassaemia trait carriers can remain healthy.

For the parents,it was a choice between taking a risk and allowing Shruti to be a donor or settling for life-long blood transfusions.

While a transplant costs over Rs 12 lakh,the family was offered concessional treatment. Ruby Hall Clinic is one of the 15 bone marrow transplant centres in the country,and has performed 140 such operations.

“The waiting list is huge but the odds of finding a compatible donor are 30 per cent. Due to a risk of graft rejection or even death,most donors are siblings,” says Dr Ramanan,who performed the transplant.

On Monday,the family’s anxiety came to an end as Shubh walked out of hospital to join his twin and Shruti at home.

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