Government hospital in Kolkata performs successful first-ever stem cell transplant on 3-year-old with thalassaemia.

Kolkata’s NRS Medical College & Hospital (NRSMCH) has successfully performed a complex half-matched stem cell transplant on Priyanshu Dhara, a two-year-eleven-month-old suffering from thalassaemia. This marks the first time such a procedure has been conducted in a government hospital in West Bengal. Priyanshu had been experiencing symptoms such as intermittent fever, weakness, and pallor since he was a year old. After haematology professor Sandeep Saha diagnosed him with transfusion-dependent thalassaemia, he suggested a stem cell transplant as a potential solution. The patient’s parents, unaware that they were both carriers of thalassaemia, were relieved to find that Priyanshu’s elder brother, Priyam, was thalassaemia-free and a suitable donor. However, a potential hurdle arose when it was discovered that Priyanshu had A-positive blood while Priyam had B-positive. Despite this mismatch, the doctors decided to proceed with the challenging half-matched, haploidentical allogeneic stem cell transplant, using special medications to reduce the risk of complications.

While the cost of such a transplant in a private facility typically reaches around Rs 40 lakh, the family had to bear the cost of medications and investigative tests not covered by the government facility. However, they expressed their faith in Dr Saha and were grateful for the opportunity to have the procedure done at NRSMCH. This landmark operation highlights the commitment of doctors at government hospitals in West Bengal to provide the best possible care to patients within the limitations of their resources. Currently, only two government hospitals in Bengal, Medical College Kolkata and NRSMCH, have bone marrow transplant units. While stem cell transplants have been performed on children with cancer before, this is the first time it has been successfully conducted on a thalassaemia patient.

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