New Delhi: The state-of-the-art bone marrow transplant (BMT) unit at Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Center at Narayana Health City has successfully treated 1000 patients, which is the largest number in Karnataka and one of the largest in the country.
This unit has emerged as a referral centre for national and international patients for both autologous and allogeneic stem cell transplants. 1000th BMT patient is a 10-year-old boy from Kolar, Karnataka who was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia. He found a matching donor after the persistent search by Narayana Health team at the Germany registry and his treatment was funded by ESI and partly by crowdsourcing.
Over 100 unique BMT cases were felicitated at the event by Dr. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Dr. Devi Shetty, Dr. Sunil Bhat and Dr. Sharat Damodar.
According to Marrow Donor Registry India, at any time, all over the world, there are about 3,000 patients searching for a donor for a Stem Cell transplant and less than 30% of those find a suitable donor within their family. Rest of the 70% depend on unrelated donors which indicates that very few people receive the best possible treatment.
To address the deficit, a cord blood banking facility was established two years back in collaboration with Rotary International, which functions both as a public and private cord blood facility. Today at its current strength Narayana Health has 30 beds across Bangalore, Kolkata and Mumbai with a capacity to conduct 150 BMT’s per year.
Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw Chairman & Managing Director, Biocon Limited, said, “I am proud to be part of this journey to build one of India’s largest Bone Marrow Transplant Centre. This centre today has become a case study for many and we hope to play a crucial role in eradicating blood-related diseases in the near future by offering world class treatment.”
Bone Marrow Transplant has evolved over a period of time and is safer with outcomes continually improving.
Dr. Devi Shetty, Chairman and Executive Director, Narayana Health, said, “In India, there are over one lakh patients with serious blood-related disorders diagnosed every year and the only long-lasting line of treatment for them is Bone Marrow Transplant. We started this unit in 2004 with a vision to offer world-class treatment and today I am proud that our Bangalore unit alone has successfully treated 1000 BMT cases. This is just the beginning and the journey to provide BMT treatment to all the beneficiaries still has a long way to go.”
The BMT procedure helps in the treatment of various non-cancerous diseases like Aplastic Anaemia, Immunodeficiency disorders, congenital storage disorders, congenital errors of metabolism and Haemoglobinopathies such as Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Anaemia. Few cancerous conditions like acute and chronic Myeloid and Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Myeloproliferative Neoplasms, Primary Myelofibrosis and Multiple Myeloma also require BMT as a solution for treatment.
Dr. Sharat Damodar, Clinical Director – Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center and Sr. Consultant Hematologist & Head – Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, Narayana Health City, said, “There is a huge demand-supply gap for Bone Marrow Transplant in our country. Currently, we have close to 2 lakh registered donors and to address the current demand deficit we need at least 10 Lakh donors to register.”
“In the current capacity, our unit can treat 150 patients per year. Our vision is to increase the current bed capacity from 18 to 25 in the next two years which will help us in treating close to 300 patients per year. We also plan to start Cellular Immunotherapy, a process that harnesses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer by 2020 to further strengthen our treatment facility. From the first treatment of a 4-year-old thalassemia child way back in 2004 to the 1000th treatment of aplastic anaemia 10-year-old boy from Kolar, Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre has emerged as a centre of excellence for BMT in our country.” adds Dr. Sharat Damodar.
India treats approximately 1500 BMT cases every year which is far less as compared to other countries like China, Japan, Korea who are treating approximately 8000 cases every year.
Dr. Sunil Bhat, Head – Paediatric Oncology, Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant at Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre, Narayana Health City, said, “The number of haematological disorders is on a rise in our country and every year at least 80,000 to 1 lakh kids are born with serious blood-related disorders. Out of the overall blood-related disorders diagnosed every year almost 5-8% of cases are from the Karnataka region. Out of the 1000 BMTs performed at our center, approximately 60 per cent are paediatric cases (with babies as young as few weeks old) as there are more indications for the bone marrow transplant in children. These indications range from cancerous conditions like leukaemia to non-cancerous genetic conditions like immunodeficiency and thalassemia.”
“The conditions which can be potentially cured with BMT are on a rise. One of the major advances has been use of unrelated donors and haplo-identical (half-matched) donors for those lacking full matched family donors. We have one of the largest experiences of half-matched transplants using never techniques like TCR Alpha/Beta depletion with excellent results, adds Dr. Sunil Bhat.
Currently, BMT is not covered under government health schemes like Vajpayee Arogya and Ayushman Bharat and a fraction of the support is available only through the PM / CM fund. Narayana Health is working towards making a representation to the state government to include BMT under the national health scheme that will help bring a larger group of beneficiaries under the treatment modality.