Fear and misconceptions related to donation of stem cells had taken the life of seven-year-old Harleen Kaur. The conditioning chemotherapy was given to Harleen, and she was to undergo stem cell transplant, but the donor backed off at last minute.
Harleen, a resident of Mandi Gobindgarh, was a thalassaemic patient. She was admitted to Christian Medical College and Hosptial on October 4 for undergoing bone-marrow (stem cell) transplant, as this was the only permanent cure for her disease.
Harleen’s father Inderpreet Singh said, “Harleen’s Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) did not match with any family member. Thus, a matched donor transplant was scheduled, with the help of a non-profit organisation DATRI, which arranged a voluntary stem cell donor.”
Dr M Joseph John, professor, clinical haematology, haemato oncology and bone marrow (stem cell) transplant unit, said, “A 25-year-old male donor was identified in Kolkatta, through DATRI, who consented for the same and underwent all medical check-ups for the stem cell donation. But when chemotherapy was started on the patient, donor backed out from donating stem cells and hence transplant could not be performed on scheduled time.”
Dr John said CMCH arranged another donor in Germany through DKMS, a German donor registry, and the stem cell collection was scheduled on November 5. During this period, patient Harleen was kept in special HEPA filter room. Due to prolonged period of neutropenia patient succumbed to infection on Tuesday.
Deceased’s father filed a complaint in Division Number 3 police station, against the donor, DATRI and CMCH. Singh said, “If the donor was not willing, he could have told earlier, so that we could have arranged someone else.”
Inspector Ranjeet Singh said, “We had received a complaint and action will be taken after investigation.”
Donation has no side effects
Donation of stem cell is as simple and safe as blood or platelets donation. Dr John said, “CMCH has conducted 84 stem cell transplants in the past five years and no donor backed at the last minute ever. As per the information, 25-year-old boy was willing, but his family was having fear and myths, thus didn’t allow the donor.”
Dr John said stem cell donation had no harmful effects on the body. We have received stem cells even from 2.5-year-old child also. A person could donate the stem cells as many times he feels, like blood donation or platelets donation. Dr Kavita Srivastva, medical haematologist at SPS Apollo Hospital, said, “We need to create awareness on the issue, as people have misconceptions related to stem cell donation.”