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India has potential to cure 3000 BMT patients, Gurgaon hospital a good example
Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) is an expensive procedure whereby the damaged bone marrow in a person is replaced by healthy bone marrows. According to a Bone Marrow Transplantation report, India has 20 million carriers for thalassemia and 10?000 children are born with thalassemia major each year, if one-third of these patients have an HLA-matched sibling donor, there is a potential to cure 3000 children with BMT.

But since 70 per cent of our population cannot afford treatment, let along expensive procedure, if each hospital take up some cases, one can save a lot of children with this deadly disease. Walking on the same philosophy, Artemis Hospital (Gurgaon) treated four-year-old Abhijeet Jain, a Thalassemia major patient from Bhopal. He underwent a successful bone marrow transplant. Stem cells from his 7 year old sister were used for the transplant. He is now discharged and visits the hospital for check-up, once a week.

In September, 2013 doctors suggested an urgent bone marrow transplant for Abhijeet, as he was in a critical condition, however, Amit Jain (Abhijeet’s father), a tea stall owner was unable to bear the cost of the treatment. His request for financial help at several quarters including the Madhya Pradesh government, but to no avail. Ultimately, the cost of Abhijeet’s treatment was raised by public donations and the rest 50 per cent was taken care of by Artemis Health Sciences Foundation.

Thalassemia is a blood disorder caused by weakening and damaging of blood cells. There are several complications related to it like bone deformity, cardiovascular diseases and enlarged spleen. Thalassemia major children require blood transfusion every month from early childhood along with adequate iron.

This costs around Rs. 1.5 lakh per year for management of each child. Approximately 8,000 - 10,000 children in India are born with Thalassemia major every year. The only options besides BMT are repeated blood transfusion and chelation therapy, which are very expensive.

BMT can cure about 90-95 per cent cases of Thalassemia major, provided they are counseled at the right age. Dr. Rahul Bhargava, Sr. Consultant – Heamato Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant at Artemis said, “Keeping in mind that Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder, it is vital to generate consciousness about the needs of adults getting them tested before pregnancy, to ensure that the unborn child is not a Thalassemic. Bone marrow transplant is not a surgery; it’s the only cure for Thalassemia, Leukemia and Aplastic aneamia.”

If each hospital take up a handful of cases, then 3000 children is not a large number to cure each year. Artemis health science foundation has given us a good example.

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