Delhi doctors save Pakistani boy with stem cell transplant

Monday, May 24, 2010

NEW DELHI - Delhi doctors proved to be saviours for a one-year-old boy from Pakistan who was suffering from a rare immune disorder. Shaheer underwent a successful stem cell transplant at the Sir Gangaram Hospital here.

The infant from Islamabad was brought to Delhi by his parents in March for treating the immune disorder called Familial HLH, which is considered fatal unless treated by a stem cell transplant, doctors said Monday. He was operated upon March 15.

“This was the first case of unrelated blood stem cell transplant in India,” said Anupam Sachdeva, senior consultant in the hospital’s paediatrics department.

Stem cells produce white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets vital for normal body functions such as oxygen transport, defence against infections and diseases, and clotting.

Stem cells used for a transplant are usually taken from a relative or a matched donor. But Shaheer, the only child of his parents, had no donors matching his stem cells in his family.

“This is the first case in India when stem cells from a mismatched donor has been used for replacement,” Sachdeva said.

“We approached Reliance Cord Bank in Mumbai for cord blood units and found two suitable units,” the doctor said.

Hospital authorities said Shaheer, who was the 50th patient to be operated for a stem cell transplant at the hospital, has recovered well but is supposed to visit the doctors twice a week.

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