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Transplant cures girl of thalassemia.

HELENA, a two- year- old thalassemia major patient, has become the first person to receive a successful mother- to- daughter bone marrow transplant in the Capital.

The transplantation was performed at the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital and Research Centre ( RGCHRC) on February 10 and the doctors have ruled out complications anymore as more than two months have passed since the procedure.

" She ( Helena) showed the usual problems initially but she has no complication now and has been cured of Thalassemia," said Dr Dinesh Bhurani, a senior consultant ( haematology) at the RGCHRC, who did the transplant.

Bone marrow transplant is a rare procedure owing to the difficulty in finding a tissue match. And a parent- to- child transplant is particularly rare as the probability of a tissue match in such cases is a mere three per cent.

Only transplants between siblings show a better probability of tissue match with a one in four, or 25 per cent, chance.

" For a bone marrow transplant to be performed, the human leukocyte antigens, or HLA, in the donor cells must closely match those in the recipient cells. HLA are cell surface proteins. The immune system recognises cells as ' self ' or ' foreign' based on these proteins," said Dr J. S. Arora, the general secretary of National Thalassemia Welfare Society and Federation of Indian Thalassemics.

Dr Gauri Kapoor, a senior consultant ( paediatric haemato- oncology), RGCHRC, echoed Arora. " In bone marrow transplantation, the donor's immune system replaces that of the recipient.

If the tissues don't match, this new immune system may recognise the recipient's body as foreign and attack organs and tissues," she said.

In Helena's case, although the HLA in her cells didn't match that of her siblings Raunak and Sanjana, they matched those of her mother Meena Kaur.

Helena, whose father Indra Kumar is employed with a multinational company in Russia, developed health problems when she was one.

She underwent treatment at the Mata Chanan Devi hospital in West Delhi and later at the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya hospital.

Doctors at Deen Dayal hospital told the child's parents that she would need blood transfusions for life. " She needed blood transfusions every month but then her condition started deteriorating," Kaur said. Helena had to discontinue schooling as her health deteriorated.

When there was no sign of improvement in Helena's condition, her parents consulted doctors at the RGCHRC, and they suggested a bone marrow transplant as the last resort and only cure for the condition.


A parent- to- child bone marrow transplant is rare as the probability of a tissue match is just three per cent

Though the HLA ( human leukocyte antigens) in Helena's cells didn't match that of her siblings Raunak and Sanjana, they matched those of her mother Meena Kaur

Helena is the first person in Delhi to receive a successful mother- todaughter bone marrow transplant

No threat to her life now

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Apr 17, 2010
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