Indian docs cure thalassaemia using stem cells | india | Hindustan Times
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Indian docs cure thalassaemia using stem cells

When others of her age played with dolls, eight-year-old Thamirabharani was taking blood transfusions. Born with thalassaemia, she has, however, found hope. Haematologist Revathy Raj and his team from Apollo Gleneagles hospital in Chennai gave a new lease of life to the little girl from Coimbatore through stem cell transplantation. Subhendu Maiti tells more...

india Updated: Sep 17, 2009 01:02 IST
Subhendu Maiti

When others of her age played with dolls, eight-year-old Thamirabharani was taking blood transfusions.

Born with thalassaemia, she has, however, found hope. She was detected with the disease when she was a year and a half and has been undergoing regular blood transfusions since.

What it means

* Stem cell transplantation: Transplantation of blood stem cells derived from the bone marrow or blood

* Umbilical cord blood: Obtained when a mother donates her infant’s umbilical cord and placenta after birth. Cord blood has higher concentration of stem cells than in adult blood

Haematologist Revathy Raj and his team from Apollo Gleneagles hospital in Chennai gave a new lease of life to the little girl from Coimbatore through stem cell transplantation. Doctors said she is now fully cured and has not needed a single transfusion since March.

Doctors claimed this is the first success story in India using the stem cells from the umbilical cord blood of a sibling.

When her father Senthil Kumar, a carpenter, came to know of stem cell transfusion and Life Cell and its process of banking stem cells from umbilical cord blood, they decided to have another child.

When Thamirabharani was two years old, her mother conceived again but the foetus was also diagnosed with Thalassae-mia. They had it terminated and tried again.

During the second attempt, doctors found the foetus was a Thalassaemia carrier but not affected by it. They collected the blood from the umbilical cord, cultivated the stem cells during delivery of the baby boy and asked Life Cell to preserve it for a year.

In March, Raj and his team started working on the transplantation process.

“The first step was to destroy all the existing bone marrow cells using chemotherapy. Next came transplanting stem cells from the donor,” said Raj.

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