3 year old Brother saves 17 year old Sister’s Life from Deadly Blood Cancer by Donating Bone Marrow

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  • Doctors from Fortis Hospital, achieved a rare foot by successfully treating 17-year-old Bangladeshi girl, who was suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia(Blood Cancer) from last four years, using the advanced Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) technology
  • The bone marrow cells used in the procedure was donated by the 3-year-old brother of the girl

July, 2019, Gurugram/Delhi: Until a few weeks ago, a family from Bangladesh was running from one hospital to another in Delhi to save the life of their 17-year-old daughter, Adiba Rehman. The girl was suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a type of blood cancer that progresses rapidly. As the family took treatment from a few big hospitals in the city, her condition only kept deteriorating by every passing day. It was their sheer luck that they eventually decided to give Fortis Hospital a try and met Dr Rahul Bhargava, and finally got the right treatment for their daughter, which saved her life.

The girl’s condition was not very good when the family approached us. She was suffering from lymphoblastic leukaemia from the last four years, due to which her platelets count was dangerously low. The most effective treatment option in such a case is Bone Marrow Transplant.  Fortunately, she was accompanied by her three-year-old brother, who with 4/6 Heplo match made for an excellent bone marrow donor and helped us carry out the procedure without further delay,” told Dr Rahul Bhargava, Director, Department of Clinical Hematology & Bone Marrow Transplant, Fortis Hospital.

Blood cancer (since bone marrow produces blood cells, so it can be termed as blood cancer or cancer of the bone marrow), also known as Leukemia, is one of the most common cancer for people under the age of 20 years, that harms the body’s ability to make healthy blood cells.

Making up for 7% of all types of cancer reported across the globe, blood cancer is not a rare disease anymore. However, due to the lack of advanced treatment options and skilled healthcare professionals, Leukemia remains one of the most under-treated cancers. Despite advancement in cancer treatment and advent of technologies like BMT, diagnosis of blood cancer is still equated as a death sentence as people perceive it as incurable.  However, there are also patients like Adiba, who not only fight blood cancer but also knock it out.

“Adiba was diagnosed with blood cancer four years ago. Despite taking treatments from renowned doctors and best healthcare set-ups, her condition was only worsening. There was a time when we thought that probably there is nothing that could save her. It was painful to see her bleeding from the nose, getting red spots all over the body and becoming fragile by each passing day. But thank God we met Dr Bhargava who did a miracle and saved our baby girl. We have no words to express our gratitude and joy,” said Adiba’s grandmother Nazme Ara, who accompanied her for the treatment in India.

Fit and healthy, Adiba has resumed her studies and is giving the class 12th exam. She aims to study abroad and become a successful engineer.

Adiba’s case and her struggle to receive the right treatment once again reminds us that when it comes to the treatment of blood cancer, healthcare infrastructure, especially in southeast Asia, still has to go a long way. “We need to bring structural changes to improve clinical outcomes in the treatment of blood cancer and bring down the mortality rate. Also, people should be made aware of the effective treatment options like BMT whose potential benefits outweigh the risks and ensures improved quality of life, so that they can make informed decisions without delay, “said Dr Rahul Bhargava.

Explaining the Bone Marrow Transplant Dr Anirudh Dayama, Sr. Consultant, Department of Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplant said, “In BMT, damaged stem cells are replaced with healthy ones. This helps bone marrow regain its ability to produce blood cells. The healthy stem cells come from a donor. To improve the success chances of BMT, the donated stem cells need to carry a genetic marker that should be identical or very similar to that of the person receiving the transplant. Therefore, the best chance of getting a match is from a sibling, as in Adiba’s case, the stem cell was taken from her younger brother.”