Fourteen-month-old Prachi Bhanushali received donor stem cells from her mother, making her possibly one of the youngest recipient in the city

Prachi Bhanushali with her mother after the transplant procedure at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Andheri

Prachi Bhanushali was just six months old when she started getting fever regularly. The usually bubbly child also started showing signs of fatigue and weakness. “When we took her to the doctors, they immediately asked us to do a thalassaemia test, which came out positive,” said her father Girish.

The 14-month-old toddler recently left Kolilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital all well after receiving a stem cell transplant from her mother who turned out to be a perfect match.

“Both her parents are carriers of the thalassaemia gene. While they have two other children, they are not thalassaemia major. Prachi’s bone marrow matched with her mother’s,” said Dr Santanu Sen, consultant haemato-oncologist and bone marrow transplant physician.

Children with thalassaemia need blood transfusions all their life as their bodies are unable to prepare healthy blood cells. While stem cell transplant is the only cure, finding the perfect match is rare.

Her doctor believes that Prachi could well be one of the youngest recipients of stem cell transplant. “In case of thalassaemia, the patient would not need to take immunosuppressants all their lives as in case of the kidney and liver transplant patients,” added Sen.

The young patient will be monitored for a few months but is expected to be able to lead a near normal life following the transplant.

Prachi has now left for her home in Daman where the family is based. “She loves to dance and groove to music; she is always smiling,” gushed her father. “However, doctors have cautioned us to use masks around her and take precautions.”

About the illness

Thalassaemia is an inherited blood disorder in which the body makes an abnormal form of haemoglobin.Children born thalassaemia major usually develop the symptoms of severe anaemia within the first year of birth.Such patients need blood transfusions all their life. Stem cell therapy, however, is a permanent cure.Thalassaemia is most common in people from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Mediterranean countries, such as Greece and Turkey.

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