Asiri’s bone marrow transplant unit turns four | Sunday Observer

Asiri’s bone marrow transplant unit turns four

Established in 2014 as a ground-breaking project, Sri Lanka’s first-ever dedicated Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Asiri Central Hospital recently celebrated its fourth anniversary.

“Our program was the first in the country to begin bone marrow transplantation. Using state-of-the art technology and facilities we were able to successfully treat patients with even very complex conditions. One of our very first young patients was completely cured and successfully completed her O/L examination recently,” Dr. Lalindra Gooneratne said.

“Each patient will be in our unit for approximately 45 days during the transplant, three special positive pressure rooms are available to ensure the air inflow is purified. Medication used for patients are never compromised as we always dispense the highest quality drugs and these are prepared in a special room by a trained and specialised individuals,” he said.

“We have also treated children from the Maldives as well. Up to-date we have treated 20 children and 12 adults. The success rate of operations is 80 percent. When there are instances that we are unable to find matching donors, we import cells from India. We have a dedicated team to perform this complex operation process, he said.

Despite Bone Marrow transplant being a curative treatment modality available globally for over 50 years, the country then lacked the facilities and expertise to help ailing patients mainly those suffering from thalassemia, a rare genetic blood disease and life-threatening disorder to receive life-saving treatment.

For thalassemia patients lifelong blood transfusion is required. However, the continuous transfusions can cause complications such as iron overload and blood-borne infections and a limited lifespan. Every year 60 children are born with thalassemia. It has recorded that over 2,000 Sri Lankans suffer from this disease.

With the support of Italy’s Cure2Children Foundation, Asiri Health successfully setup Sri Lanka’s first-ever dedicated Bone Marrow Transplant in 2014, with specialised nursing and medical staff and a custom-designed isolation ward for patients’ recovery.

Initially, the local team received their training from the foundation’s Italian doctors and even to-date receives supplemental training locally and from overseas. The Unit has performed well over the years achieving a success rate of 32 transplants.

While Bone Marrow transplants require a matching donor, Asiri Hospital assures patients of finding matching donors via overseas registries. Working in collaboration with India’s Datri Registry and other registries in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, Asiri Hospital sources possible donors for patients. While the consultation for patients are done free of charge, all patients have access to the Unit’s multi-disciplinary team.