Bone marrow transplant centers demanded in Pakistan


KARACHI: Director National Institute of Blood Diseases (NIBD) & Bone Marrow Transplantation Prof Dr Tahir Shamsi on Tuesday said more than 1500 bone marrow transplants have been performed in NIBD in last twenty years and there is urgent need to establish such more transplant centers across Pakistan to save precious lives.

He was addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club here. Noted Hematologist Dr Saqib Ansari, and patients who have successfully recovered from blood cancer through bone marrow transplant procedures were present.

Dr Shamsi, who is also one of the leading haematologists in Pakistan, said the first ever bone marrow transplant of a 19 years old boy, resident of Lyari and suffering from blood cancer, was carried out on 13th October, 1995 in Pakistan under his supervision. He said this successful transplant became a milestone in medical history of Pakistan.

He said around 10,000 patients with haematological disorder need bone marrow transplant annually but only 100 patients are benefited from the procedure due to lack resources & government support, unavailability of skilled staff and transplant centers.

He informed that currently bone marrow transplant facility is only available in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. He said there is no government support and the procedure costs per patient is Rs 2-2.5million, which is very expensive for a common man to bear. He said the success rate of a bone marrow transplant in Pakistan is 60 to 70 percent which can be compared to any Western country.

He explained that generally bone marrow transplant is of two types, i.e. autolgous (using patient own bone marrow) and allogenic (using someone else bone marrow). He said allogenic transplant has to beat another obstacle of having a tissue matched or technically HLA method donor that is usually selected from patient’s own family.

He said Thalassaemia major, blood cancer, & aplastic anaemia are some of the blood disorder in which bone marrow transplant is done and is the sure way to cure the disease.

He said an estimated 9000 haematological disorder patients die every year in the country due to unavailability of bone marrow transplant facilities.

He stressed the need of establishment of bone marrow transplant centers across in the country and government support for it to save precious lives.

Dr Saqib Ansari said bone marrow transplant of 900 children has been successfully performed in the institution in last twenty years with 75 percent success rate. He said tens of billions of rupees are spent annually on treatment of 100,000 thalassemia patients in the country and the government must establish thalassemia care centers in all teaching hospitals in the country in order to minimize burden on parents.