Desperate Doctors Find Granny’s Stem Cells Do The Trick After Daddy’s Failed

BANGALORE: This four-year-old boy got a new lease of life thanks to his grandmother. It was his granny's stem cells that turned out to be a saviour for little Tarun. The kid had to undergo a bone marrow transplant and required a donor for cells. This would be perhaps one of the rare instances where the patient got the cells from his grandmother and survived the disease.

Tarun was diagnosed with Glanzmann's thrombasthenia when he was ten months old, a condition in which he suffered from severe nose bleeding requiring blood transfusion. Genetically acquired, this is a rare bleeding disorder. The patient suffers from a genetic defect in the platelets, as a result of which blood doesn't clot, even if the platelet numbers are normal.

Tarun had recurrent episodes of severe bleeding from the nose accompanied with blood vomiting, leading to severe anaemia. The child had to receive regular blood and platelet transfusions to stop the bleeding.

Gradually, due to alloantibodies after repeated blood transfusions, little Tarun then stopped responding to platelet transfusions.

As a desperate measure, ENT surgeons were called in. They attempted cauterizing the bleeding vessel but in vain. Next, the interventional radiologists were consulted and embolization of the bleeding vessel was attempted, but nothing worked.

The only available treatment option was to attempt a bone marrow transplant (BMT) and replace the platelets in the child with somebody else's normal platelets.

This is an expensive treatment option and needs a donor for stem cells.

At first, Tarun was transfused with cells from his father's bone marrow, as the two matched. He underwent the surgery at BMT at Narayana Hrudayalaya. Unfortunately, this did not work out as Tarun's body rejected the cells transfused. "In a desperate attempt, we searched for a donor among other family members and to our surprise we found the grandmother's fully matched," said Dr Sharat Damodar, consultant haematologist and head of the BMTU.

The child underwent a second transplant using the grandmother's stem cells and engrafted successfully. Post-transplant, blood tests have confirmed that 100% blood cells are of the grandmother, and the platelet function tests have confirmed that the platelets are functional.

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