October 4, 2019
Medical science has been working wonders. Blood stem cell transplant is one among them that has come to save the lives of several patients. Dr R Suthanthira Kannan, a leading Hemato Oncologist in Coimbatore, speaks about this method of cure.
Till recently several blood-related diseases were cured by transplanting bone marrow cells. But now, the same can be done through transplant of blood stem cells, a procedure that is as simple as blood donation, Dr Suthanthira Kannan tells The Covai Post.
In certain blood-related diseases, this transplantation of blood stem cells is the only option available. It has to be noted that this could also be done for non-cancerous diseases, say like aplastic anemia. Basically, the bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells or platelets. Besides, there are a number of cancerous blood-related diseases where normal chemotherapy cannot cure the patient.
Such diseases call for blood stem cell transplants and transfusion in six months or a year, which may have to be a lifelong process.
Next comes the issue of who can be a donor. In certain diseases like myeloma, transplant can be done from the patient’s own bone marrow. But for most other diseases there has to be a different donor which could be siblings, says the doctor. For transplant, like in the case of ordinary blood transfusion where group match is vital, there has to be a match between tissues.
But as most families are these days are small and limited to two children or less, the options to get matching tissues are limited.
It is here that the registry comes in handy. Several people across the country have volunteered to donate blood stem cells. And a donor can be found from this registry.
Over the last decade, it has been found that there need not be a 100 per cent match. Haplo, or a 50 per cent match could suffice. This can make parents a match for children and other adults a match for their parents. This is possible in 99 per cent of the cases. However, there is a slight risk of infection in a haplo match.
Regarding the outcome of such transplants, he says it has to be done at the right time. But they are done in cases of totally incurable diseases. And in 50 per cent of theses cases, notably where they are simply not curable, they are successful.
On how aware people are about stem cell transplant, given that there is a growing registry of donors, Dr Suthanthira Kannan says that more than the awareness, it is affordability that makes things difficult. A transplant can cost anything up to Rs 10 lakh. But what hast to be noted is that there are several funding agencies which are a solace to patients.
But what is equally important is to have an awareness about blood diseases. Once diagnosed, the patient should immediately go for proper treatment which will really bring about a big change.