Man gets cord blood transplant
||S Vigneshwaran is 23 and yet for years, neither he nor his family could be sure he'd reach this far.
It was back in 2001, when he was just in class XI, that doctors diagnosed him with a form of blood cancer called acute Myeloid Leukemia.
"When my platelets counts were down, my gums started bleeding and swelling. I couldn't eat, I couldn't speak, I couldn't sleep,” he says.
Vigneshwaran underwent about six cycles of chemotherapy but suffered relapse after relapse. It was after five years, when doctors couldn't find a compatible bone marrow donor, after his third relapse that doctors suggested a transplant.
Medical researchers have found that the blood inside the umbilical cord is a great source of stem cells. Cord blood stem cells can be used for blood diseases and diseases of the immune system. But some doctors remain sceptical about their use.
“They told that you better go abroad, Singapore or UK or the US. It's not possible here for an unrelated cord-blood transplant or a related bone marrow transplant,” says Vigneshwaran.
This was an expensive proposition. The transplant and post-operative care cost Rs 1.25 cr but the family found no options in the country.
“The doctor had given only 30 per cent survival chance, so people get disheartened. They don't want to spend that much money and take a chance,” says Vignesh's friend's mother, Shanthi Suresh, adding, “The boy was very lucky because the Australian blood that he got had nine cells matching with him out of ten. So it gave us a lot of hope”.
It's been two years now, and he hasn’t had a relapse. Regular medical check-ups are given, but that is something Vignesh has learned to live with.
Because it was a cord blood transplant, he needed to get all of his vaccinations again, since he effectively had the immunity of a newborn.
For a full year after his surgery, Vigneshwaran could not be exposed to pollution or smoke, and had to be careful with his diet.