The inquiry committee set up by civil surgeon Dr Subhash Batta in the Harleen case, wherein a seven-year-old girl died as her stem cell donor backed out at the last minute on November 4, started its inquiry on Thursday. Even conditioning chemotherapy was given to her.
The inquiry committee consists of three doctors - Dr S Kaushal, Dr Harpreet Singh and Dr Savita - questioned Dr M Joseph John, professor, clinical haematology and bone marrow transplant unit, CMCH, about the case at Lord Mahavira Civil Hospital on Thursday .
Victim’s father Inderpreet Singh was also present in the meeting. A resident of Mandi Gobindgarh, Inderpreet said, “NGO Datri arranged the donor, who backed out at the last minute, and the CMCH doctors, who did not save the stem cells of Harleen for backup, are responsible for the death of my daughter.” Inderpreet said the CMCH had the facility to store stem cells for backup purpose, but they did not do it. If the old stem cells were restored by the doctors, then even after the donor’s back out, old stem cells could have be transplanted to Harleen to save her life, he added. They also sent a legal notice to the CMCH to provide them copies of treatment documents of Harleen.
The inquiry committee was set up by the civil surgeon after the parents of Harleen submitted their complaint to the police commissioner.
Dr John said, “It is wrong to put the blame entirely on the CMCH. The donor was identified by the Datri and unfortunately he backed out at the last hour. As per norms, the identity of the stem cell donor is not revealed by the registry. It is noteworthy to mention that the CMCH had identified a German donor from the DKMS, but it was the decision of the government reconstituted medical board to have the donor registry from India.” The CMCH did everything possible medically and had also identified a replacement donor immediately. However, she succumbed due to infection one day prior to the arrival of stem cells from Germany, he added.
Dr Abraham G Thomas, director, CMCH said, “Since 2008, CMCH has done 85 transplants and 37 are for patients with thalassaemia. Results of thalassaemia transplant shows 33 of 37 patients are alive with an overall survival of 89%."