Nargis Sultana (29), a blood cancer patient, has got a new life after a successful transplantation of allogeneic bone marrow into her body.
On July 3, a Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) team of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) performed the operational (medical) procedure for the first time in the country.
An allogeneic bone marrow transplant uses healthy blood stem cells from a donor to replace patient’s diseased or damaged bone marrow. A donor may be a family member, an acquaintance or someone else.
Physicians collected stem cells from the patient’s younger brother’s body.
“Nargis is now doing well. She can go home next week,” Prof Dr MA Khan, head of the DMC’s Hematology and BMT Department, leading the operation, told The Business Standard on Sunday.
However, she would have to go through under intensive follow-up procedures for the next three to six months. She needs to visit doctors once in a week for check-up, he added. Prof Khan hoped that she will be able to lead a normal life after all that.
Nargis Sultana, from Kholabaria village in Rajbari, has been suffering from blood cancer for the last one year. She has two daughters.
In the process of conventional bone marrow transplant, first of all, healthy stem cells collected from a patient’s body are preserved; and then the preserved cells are transplanted into the patient’s body again through chemotherapy. Chemotherapy works to destroy cancer cells, Dr Akhil Ranjan Biswas, Associate Professor of DMC’s Hematology and BMT Department, told The Business Standard.
On the other hand, the allogeneic bone marrow transplant is completely different. In this particular instance, stem cells collected from a donor are transplanted into a patient’s body. Stem cells also work to destroy cancer cells. The patient’s recovery rate in this process is 90 percent.
Before its introduction, cancer patients were given only chemotherapy.
Due to chemotherapy on regular basis, at one stage the process becomes ineffective and eventually results in patient’s death. After the successful introduction of allogeneic transplant, cancer patients will not require chemotherapy anymore.
The DMCH’s BMT unit started its journey in 2013. Its first patient was Omar Ali. Doctors of the Unit conducted bone marrow transplant on him in March 2014.Since then, he has been leading a normal life. But he needs to visit doctors in every two or three months. However, he does not need to take much medicine anymore.
Till now, the DMC’s BMT Unit has transplanted bone marrow successfully on 42 patients. However, no allogenic bone marrow transplant has been done in the country until now.