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04 Jun 2015
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Kerala Girl Gets Stem Cells from German Donor for Leukemia

Most people in India think that stem cell therapy is only in theory and cannot be used in clinical applications but time and time again, the medical world proves it wrong. Thanks to stem cells, a 16 year old girl from Kerala who has got an advanced stage of leukemia finds a new lease on life through stem cell donation by a 55 year old German man.

Her Journey towards the Road of Recovery

This 16 year old girl was suffering from bone marrow cancer and received treatment at Kochi. As a last resort, her doctors looked for matching stem cells but couldn’t find a suitable donor in India against 70,000 bone marrow donor registrations. However, they found a matching stem cell donor from Germany with the help of an international registry, DKMS. According to her doctor, Neeraj Sidharthan, head of stem cell transplant unit at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, the girl got completely cured of leukemia after the donor stem cell transfusion.

How Stem Cells Cured Leukemia?

According to doctors, the girl had a relapsed acute myeloid leukemia; the chances of recovery in such cases are slim. They suggested allogenic stem cell transplant (from a healthy donor) to save the girl. In most scenarios, the patients receive matching stem cells from siblings or parents but they could not find a match for her in the family. After trying hard, they finally got one perfectly matching donor from the Germany’s stem cell registry.

Before transplant, the girl underwent pre-transplant tests and administration of chemotherapeutic drugs to prevent the side effects of the therapy as the stem cells came from a donor of opposite sex and different race. The healthy stem cells taken from the donor was harvested and airlifted from Germany to Kerala. Doctor Sidharthan and team transfused these stem cells to the patient followed by regular checkups. After a while, her leukemia got cured and she regained her health slowly. “She comes to me for routine check-up and now she is doing perfectly fine”, Dr. Sidharthan added.

However, this is not the only stem cell success story in India. Although, many kids and their parents are looking for this miraculous cure every day, there are only one lakh donors available out of 1.25 billion people in India. Bone marrow stem cell donation is a simple procedure like a normal blood donation and the donors can leave the hospital within 4-5 hours post transfusion.

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