From left to right - 15 Months old baby girl- Nethumi Shenaya Rajapaksha Bomaluwe along with her mother, Dr. Sunil Bhat, Senior Consultant and Head of Paediatric Haematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant at Narayana Health City, along with 4 year old baby girl -Suwini Umeda Shreemali Balasooriya, 5 year old boy Purna, mother and grandmother of the children and Dr. Shobha Badiger, Consultant Paediatric Haematology and Oncologist, Narayana Health City

Bangalore, August 11, 2017: Narayana Health City treats four Sri Lankan children suffering from thalassemia major, a life-threatening disorder, through unrelated donor bone marrow transplant. The doctors sourced matching bone marrow cells from unrelated donors from across the world and carried out the transplants at Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at the Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre, Narayana Health City. Patients included, 15 months old Nethumi Shenaya Rajapaksha Bomaluwe, 4-year-old Suwini Umeda Shreemali Balasooriya, 5-year-old Purna and 10-year-old Mithun Dilesh Welgamage.

Thalassemiamajor is a rare genetic blood disorder wherein, the body fails to produceenough red cells and the ones that are formed also die soon resulting in verylow haemoglobin levels. These patients need lifelong blood transfusion andlifespan is very short. Sri Lanka faces several challenges while dealing withcomplex cases, especially those who don’t have any family matched donors fortransplant and Narayana Health City offered to help. The common treatment forthalassemia major is blood transfusion. However, the continuous transfusionscan cause complications like iron overload and blood- borne infections. Bonemarrow transplant is the curative option and hence the families of the four SriLankan children decided to opt for this treatment modality.

For NarayanaHealth City, it was a challenge to meet, as all previous attempts elsewhere tofind matching bone marrow donors in the families of these children had failed.Fortunately, the team could find matching donors for all four children. WhileSuwini and Purna found saviours in Datri Registry (India), the other two foundmatching donors from German Registry (DKMS) in London.

Elaboratingabout the treatment, Dr. Sunil BhatSenior Consultant andHead of Paediatric Haematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant at NarayanaHealth City,  said, “Apart from finding human leukocyteantigen (HLA) matched donors for all the 4 children the biggest challenge wasto ensure acceptance of the stem cells by the recipient’s system. In unrelatedbone marrow transplant, unlike in related donors, the genetic makeup and immunesystems in the recipient and the donor are very different. Hence the chancesfor complications both during and post-transplant are very high. Fortunately,in the case of these children their body responded very positively to thetransplant and that has helped us to cure them of thalassemia major. He alsopointed out that the chances of finding matched donors are far better from sameethnic background. As there are no unrelated donor registries in Sri Lanka,finding a donor for them is a challenge”

Over theyears, cases such as these have propelled Narayana Health City to be the mostsought-after health destination for both national and international patients.With its state-of-the-art facilities and experienced doctors, Narayana has notonly become a center of excellence for heart problems, which it already hasearned a name for, but a leading referral centre for a wide array of treatmentsincluding bone marrow transplant.

Sharing hisjoy, Mr. Jayantha Boolasooriya, father of Suwini UmedaShreemali Balasooriya, who is the Secretary of The Thalassemia Society as wellsaid, “Back home thalassemia major is considered as an incurabledisease especially for children who do not have related donors. The childrendepend on blood transfusion and thereby succumb to fatalities very early inlife. Thankfully, we happened to hear about the bone marrow transplant unit atNarayana Health City. We are grateful to Dr. Sunil Bhat and the entire team fornot only curing my daughter but also the children of my friends from thisdreadful disease.” Mr Balasooriya also emphasised the need for donor registryin Sri Lanka and having such expertise there in order to help more and morepatients.

The BoneMarrow Transplant Unit at the Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre, Narayana HealthCity, is recognized world-over as a leading referral centre for both autologousand allogenic stem cell transplant. The unit has completed more than 775 stemcell transplants, including the complextransplants like Haplo-identical (half matched transplants) and unrelatedtransplants.

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