Bone marrow transplant unit opens at Shifa International

Bone marrow transplant unit opens at Shifa International
Baitul Mal to contribute 300,000 for treatment of every patient
Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Shahina Maqbool
The Pakistan Baitul Mal will contribute Rs300,000 for treatment of every patient undergoing bone marrow transplant at Shifa International, the fund’s Managing Director Zamarud Khan announced at the inauguration of the hospital’s bone marrow transplant unit here on Monday.
The establishment of the unit, which is the first of its kind in the private sector in Punjab, the Northern Areas and Kashmir, was termed as a milestone in the history of Shifa. Prominent at the ceremony were the Ambassador of Italy Vicenzo Prati, the CEO and President of Shifa International Dr. Zaheer Ahmed, head of the oncology department Dr. M. Afridi, and consultant Oncologist Dr. Kamran Rashid.
Zamarud Khan and Vicenzo Prati performed the ribbon-cutting ritual in the presence of doctors, medical students, paramedics and members of the civil society.
Addressing the ceremony as chief guest, Zamarud complemented Shifa for taking the lead by establishing a bone transplant unit while the government is still planning for such facilities. He paid tributes to doctors who, rather than being enamoured by financial considerations abroad, return to Pakistan and serve their own people. He suggested the initiation of campaigns for the prevention and cure of cardiovascular diseases and hepatitis. “Should you take it up seriously, Bait-ul-Mal will provide the funds to run these projects as well,” he promised.
Vicenzo Prati said that being from a family of doctors, he realises the importance of healthcare. He said he was impressed by the cooperation and competitiveness of Pakistani doctors, and hoped to strengthen the existing level of cooperation between Pakistan and Italy in the field of healthcare in particular.
Dr. Zaheer Ahmed congratulated the team that worked on the project. He thanked cure2children for its support and confidence in opening such an important unit in the hospital; and Bestway Foundation for providing Rs37 million to Shifa for training of nurses.
Dr. M. Afridi appreciated the help provided by Khaild Zaman and Sadaf Khalid, whose daughter underwent bone marrow transplant in Italy, and cure2children, without whose help the task would have not been achieved. He informed that the government of Italy will sponsor treatment of six patients who undergo bone marrow transplant at Shifa International.
Bone marrow transplant is a procedure in which a healthy bone marrow is transplanted into a patient whose bone marrow is not working properly. “These healthy bone marrow cells can also be mobilized and collected from peripheral blood,” Dr. Kamran said. An estimated 138,530 people in an advanced country like the United States have been diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma in 2008. Every ten minutes, another child or adult is expected to die from leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma. This statistic represents nearly 145 people each day or six people every hour. Leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer among children and young adults under the age of 20.
Bone marrow transplant in the US costs around US $250,000 and in the UK about £150,000. “In Pakistan, we hope to do it at the lowest possible cost, which may range between Rs1.5 and Rs2 million,” Dr. Kamran said. He shared that there are three types of transplants namely, autologous transplantation, allogeneic transplantation, and umbilical cord blood.
Highlighting the process of bone marrow transplant, Dr Kamran said that after taking the sample of bone marrow from the patient, the stem cells are harvested and then treated with agents that destroy leukemia cells without harming the bone marrow or stem cells. After this, the patient’s remaining bone marrow and leukemia cells are destroyed. The next phase involves injection of the bone marrow or stem cells into the patient.
Bone marrow deficiency disease is caused by abnormal red blood cell production, such as thalassemia or sickle cell disease and lack of normal blood cell production (aplastic anemia); immune system disorders (immunodeficiencies) such as congenital neutropsenia and severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome; and specific forms of cancer such as leukemias, lymphomas and myeloma.
The ceremony concluded with presentation of shields and bouquets to the chief guests as well as the team behind the initiative.

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