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Central hospital BMT unit celebrates four years of success


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  • More than 20 successful transplants completed
  • 80% success rate, more focus on blood and bone cancer in future
  • Stem cells imported from India also an option for patients  

By Ruwandi Gamage 

The Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) unit of Asiri Central Hospital, celebrating four years with more than 20 successful transplants, this week pledged to continue their excellent services into the future.  

While the majority of transplants were done for children with thalassemia, the unit had also treated people with different types of blood or bone marrow cancers. The head of the BMT unit, Consultant Haematologist Dr. Lalindra Goonaratne, noted their successful transplants, and also highlighted the expansion of their services to international patients.

“The project inception was marked by four transplants that were done by the BMT unit free of charge. Since then, we have done transplants not only for Sri Lankans, but also for patients from Maldives. The aim of this project is to cure patients of diseases completely. However, due to the complexity of this procedure, only 80% of transplants are successful the first time. The 80% success rate means that the disease resurfaces,” he said.

In the past three years, while the completed transplants were done through a matched sibling, the unit began matched unrelated donor transplants since last year.

“Initially the transplants were from a fully matched sibling of the patient, a brother or a sister. Since last year, we have moved on to matched, unrelated transplants, where the stem cells are brought down from India. We have successfully completed five such transplants,” said Central BMT Unit’s Consultant Paediatrician Dr. Ruwangi Dissanayaka.

Dr. Goonaratne further explained about their upcoming transplant for a child with aplastic anaemia, and also detailed about the costs of these BMT procedures.

“A transplant for a child with thalassemia, without much prescribed medication, would have to incur a cost of Rs. 4 million. For an adult with a type of bone marrow cancer, the cost would be about Rs.2 million to Rs. 4.5 million,” he said.

The project, established in 2014 mainly for the treatment of thalassemia patients, was the first BMT unit to be accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI). It also has the approval by the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo, to act as a training facility for medical postgraduate trainees.

 


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