The South Asian Times

25 May 2019 09:24 AM

Sickle Cell Center of Excellence in Southern California performs first stem cell transplant

The Pediatric Hematology Oncology team at the famous Loma Linda University in California performed its first-ever Stem Cell Transplantation in more than 100-year history of the institution. The team led by Dr.’s Akshat Jain, Quan Zhao, Rishi Chavan performed this remarkable feat safely with no complications.

Sickle Cell Disease is a genetic disease of red blood cells that affects children since birth. One in 7 African American children suffers from some form of Sickle Cell Disease in the United States. India has the world’s third largest population of Sickle Cell disease in the world. Children suffer from severe pain episodes throughout their lives and die early from complications of this disease. In sub-Saharan Africa, most children with Sickle Cell disease don’t live beyond their 5th birthday.  

As this is the disease of the cells made from the bone marrow, by removing patient’s defective marrow cells and transplanting healthy stem cells into the patient from a matched donor, the disease can be controlled and even cured. Lack of a suitably matched donor leaves most of the patients around the world to suffer as transplantation is not possible.

Dr. Jain’s team bypassed this problem by using the patient’s father’s cells and using a special technique called as “Haploidentical Transplantation”, to cure the little girl of her lifelong disease that had caused her to be wheelchair bound due to severe and repeated pain episodes due to dying bone cells.

Update: 14 March, 2019