UCH partners with Illinois University on bone marrow transplant

UCH, Ibadan. Photo:  whatsupibadan

UCH, Ibadan. Photo: whatsupibadan

The University College Hospital (UCH) has disclosed that it has partnered with University of Illinois Hospital in a project to develop the country’s first blood and marrow stem cell transplant (BMT) center.

Speaking at a press conference held at the UCH, Prof Damiano Rondelli of University of Illinois, Chicago, USA said that the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) in Nigeria is the first in Africa and has nothing to do with surgery.

According to him, “With this chemotherapy-free transplant, we are curing adults with sickle cell disease, and we see that their quality of life improves vastly within just one month of the transplant.

“About 90 percent of the approximately 450 patients who have received stem cell transplants for sickle cell disease have been children. Chemotherapy has been considered too risky for adult patients, who are often more weakened than children by the disease.

“Adults with sickle cell disease can now be cured without chemotherapy — the main barrier that has stood in the way for them for so long. Our data provide more support that this therapy is safe and effective and prevents patients from living shortened lives, condemned to pain and progressive complications.”

Stem cell transplant is a standard procedure for the treatment of many blood cancers in both adult and children. The BMT center will help to serve over five million people with sickle cell anaemia in Nigeria.

He explained further, “In the new procedure, patients receive immuno-suppressive drugs just before the transplant, along with a very low dose of total body irradiation, a treatment much less harsh and with fewer potentially serious side effects than chemotherapy.

“ Donor cells from a healthy and tissue-matched sibling are transfused into the patient. Stem cells from the donor produce healthy new blood cells in the patient, eventually in sufficient quantity to eliminate symptoms. In many cases, sickle cells can no longer be detected. Patients must continue to take immunosuppressant drugs for at least a year.

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