Expert advocates bone marrow transplant to boost survival in sickle cell patients

[FILES] Sickle cell

Sickle Cell
Worried by the high rate of deaths caused by sickle cell disease (SCD) in Nigeria, expert has advocated for increased awareness and support on Bone marrow Transplant (BMT), to increase survival rate.

Bone marrow transplant, also known as stem cell transplant, has been perceived as the only curative measure for the SCD and other genetic issues, in which damaged or destroyed bone marrow are replaced with healthy bone marrow stem cells.

According to report, more that 280 million people have disease with genetic causes globally, as over 40 million Nigerians are carriers of the sickle cell gene. Further reports, revealed that over 150 children bone with the disease die
Speaking to the press during his visit in Lagos, the Senior Consultant and Head, Pediatric Hematology, Oncology Immunology and Bone marrow Transplant, Artemis Hospital, India, Dr Gaurav Kharya, said BMT, remains the only procedure to curing SCD, as many who have undergone the process are living healthy and doing their daily activities, just like those with normal genotype.

He said SCD is not a death sentence, but forms a huge burden of disease across the globe. Kharya noted that, no child should be allowed to die of the disease owing to the challenges hindering the BMT in Nigeria, which he said include, cost of treatment, lack of clear cut indications, awareness, donor availability, lack of trained personnel, infrastructure among others.

According to the Hematology Oncologist, having a BMT done in Nigeria needs a strong commitment from the political system, for it to be effective.

He added that despite the rate of awareness on prevention of the disease, there is still need for the BMT, as the disease is inevitable, owing to ignorance among couples and other reasons.

Speaking on the misconception on environmental factor affecting patients who have undergone the transplant, Kharya said, it could be due to other factors and not environment, adding that Nigeria’s environment is safe for patients.

He, however, urged the government to take proactive steps in helping people with SCD undergo the bone marrow here in Nigeria, as cost remains the major barrier in accessing the treatment.
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