Barely two months after he was born in 2008, Swaraj Jagnade required blood transfusion to treat thalassaemia — a genetic disorder. His father Sachin Jagnande, from Chakan, recalled that they had to raise more than Rs 18 lakh for a cord blood transplant. “Since the transplant in 2011, my son, who is now six years old, has not had a single blood transfusion,” said Sachin. Swaraj is among the 23 Indian transplant cases — all performed in Pune — that have been accepted for the first time as Asian data by the international bone marrow transplant registry.
Dr Vijay Ramanan, director of the Indian Red Cross Thalassaemia project and founder of bone marrow transplant centre at Ruby Hall Clinic, said that for the first time, Indian data has been accepted by the international registry. Case studies of over 20 patients who have undergone transplants – be it for treating sickle cell disease, thalassaemia and other genetic disorders, now figure in the registry.
While the transplant centre at Ruby Hall Clinic was officially inaugurated in 2011 by Prof Reuven Or, who heads the transplant program at Hadassah University, Jerusalem, Israel, it has been functional for seven years now and 190 transplants have been done.
Over 60 transplants for thalassaemia and hemoglobinopathy had been done, Ramanan told Pune Newsline. It was the first centre to have haploidentical transplant for people without donors. Here, haploidentical means partially matched donor from the patients’ family. This has helped patients with no hope of transplant because unrelated bone marrow stem cell transplants are not easily available as the expenses would be Rs 35-40 lakh. Ruby Hall Clinic has setup various tests such as Mixed Lymphocyte Cytotoxicity and Panel reactive Antibodies for Haplo-identical transplant, he added.
Ramanan added that transplant for sickle cell disease was difficult as the possibility of the stem cell transplanted being rejected by the patient’s body because of development of antibodies. “We have come to the conclusion that HbF or fetal Haemoglobin increases in patients after cord blood transplant and this leads to decrease in sickle haemoglobin,” Ramanan said. This decrease leads to reduction of sickling crisis.
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