Children’s Day: Aster Sick Kids Foundation helps 3 month baby recover with emergency surgery

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Bangalore, 14 November 2019: A 3 month old baby suffering from a potentially fatal immune defect underwent a life saving stem cell procedure at Aster CMI Hospital recently which was funded by Aster Sick Kids Foundation and crowdfunding. As a part of its CSR initiative, the hospital was able to conduct this surgery at a cost of around Rs 10 lakh rupees, while the average cost of such complex surgeries is around Rs 30-40 lakh. Adding to this, a significant proportion of the Rs. 10 lakh required and post-transplant care was funded by Aster Sick Kids Foundation along with crowd-sourced funds.

The baby was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID), a dreaded disease that is 100% fatal in the absence of definitive treatment, with the only cure being a stem cell transplant.  Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID) is a serious form of Primary Immunodeficiency Disease (or PIDs), a genetic disorder where children are born with very weak or defective immune systems. Children with PIDs are prone to develop repeated, unexplainable illnesses and often die at a young age. The underlying condition may often be missed unless evaluated by an Immunologist.

At the tender age of just one month, the baby had already developed multiple infections and was suffering from loose motions, abscess on buttocks, cough, rapid breathing and high fever that could not be resolved with antibiotics and was progressively getting worse. Through specialized testing at Aster CMI Hospital, the Hyderabad based family found that their baby had a very low lymphocyte count (white blood cells that fight infections) and his T-cells (a type of white cell that is very crucial to fight infections) were absent altogether. “Upon reviewing the family’s medical background, we discovered that the family had lost their first child at the age of 3 months, likely due to the same disease,” said Dr. Sagar Bhattad, Pediatric Immunologist, Aster CMI Hospital.

“Through a stem cell or bone marrow transplant, we introduce healthy cells into the baby’s system which then start to create fully functional white blood cells that are capable of fighting infections. Such cases are challenging because the baby’s immune system is severely weakened and gives us a very short time frame to conduct the transplant to save the baby’s life. There is also a higher risk of mortality when the transplant is done while the child is simultaneously suffering from active infections. However once the transplant is done, in most cases the patient is able to make a full recovery and return to normal life,” said Dr. Stalin Ramprakash, Pediatric BMT expert, Aster CMI Hospital.

The baby was treated for 30 days in the bone marrow transplant unit and discharged once the new white blood cells from the donor stem cells started getting produced (engraftment). The hospital is also providing free Immunoglobulin (IVIG) infusions every month. The child is now free of infections, has put on weight and is set for a healthy future.