Dr. Pritesh Junagade, a Bone marrow transplant physician who has 12 year’s experience in India performing stem cell transplantation, performed the country’s first double cord stem cell transplant at Lotus institute of Hematology, Oncology, and bone marrow transplantation, Nashik.
A rare success story of a 7-year-old girl with a serious blood disorder treated with a stem cell transplant procedure is nothing short of a story from science fiction!
Patient of Aplastic anemia
The patient, a 7-year girl from Sangamner had aplastic anemia, where one’s own red cells, white cells, and platelets are not produced as the basic” stem cell” from which our blood cells are formed is defective. She required repeated blood and platelet transfusion support for the last 2 years. The only curative treatment for such a serious disease is to give someone else’s “stem cells” so that they produce the blood cells.
Sibling’s stem cell did not match
This is possible if the patient has a “donor” who can give the stem cells. Normally siblings (brother and sister) can donate the stem cells but there is only a 25% chance that the stem cells match! The patient treated at Lotus Hospital had one younger sister whose stem cells were stored at the time of birth (taken from the cord) in the hope that they are 100% match and can be used for the patient in the future. Unfortunately, the stem cells were only a 50% match, so we could not use them.
Lifecell bank at Chennai gave stem cell
We have cord stem cell banks, just like blood banks where stem cells collected at the time of birth from the cord which connects the mother to the baby, are stored after paying a fee. Till 2017, one such bank. Lifecell bank at Chennai uses to allow stem cells to be used for their own family only. But due to prevailing practices all over the world, they allowed the use of the stored stem cells to be used for other needy patients.
Double cord stem cell transplant needed
Our patient luckily had two such stored cord stem cells from other babies who stored their cord stem cells in the same bank. Normally we use 1 such unit, but we needed 2 such units as the number of stem cells from one unit was not “sufficient”, so we decided to use both the stem cells. So in fact, both the cord stem cell units were only 90% match with one another and also with the patient, but we had to take a small risk and went ahead with the “double cord stem cell” transplant.
Use of double cord stem cells is rare and with this success, more centers should use the procedure for the benefit of many such patients who do not have matched sibling”, It is once again proved that tier 2 cities are also capable of doing the complex procedure at much-reduced costs for the benefit of the majority of our patients. 22 days after the actual procedure the infused stem cells started working and all 3 types of blood cells are now in normal numbers and the patient is free from blood and platelet transfusion.Dr. Pritesh Junagade