Bone marrow transplants successfully performed at Apeksha hospital

Consultant Oncologist attached to ‘Apeksha’ Hospital (former Cancer Institute), Dr. Prasad Abeysinghe yesterday appealed for more resources to meet the growing demand for bone marrow transplants performed at the hospital.

Dr. Abeysinghe was speaking at a ceremony at the Razavi Medical Complex of the hospital, to mark the first anniversary of Bone Marrow Transplants (BMT) programme.

Dr Abeysinghe said the project would need more assistance once it commenced performing BMTs with donor cells.At present the medical team was only performing autologous stem cell transplants (stem cells harvested from the patients themselves). Donor transplants were more complicated as there was a risk of the recipients’ body rejecting the donor cells, Dr. Abeysinghe said. The procedure required a lot more resources as infrastructure had to be improved, Dr. Abeysinghe said, adding that until last year the public health sector had not been adequately equipped to perform stem cell transplants. Patients had been compelled to spend large amounts of money to the tune of three to five million rupees for the autologous operations overseas.

However, having undergone training in Australia and in the Netherlands, doctors attached to the Apeksha Hospital and the National Blood Transfusion Service had been able to combine their resources and initiate BMTs for patients at the Apkesha hospital, the consultant doctor said.

Since December 2016 the BMT Unit had performed 20 transplants with a 100 per cent success. They included two Lymphomas (cancer of the lymphatic system). Director of the Apkesha Hospital, Dr. Wilfred Kumarasinghe said. The Unit hoped to increase the number of surgeries to at least four transplants per month, he noted, adding that at present only two were performed.

Consultant transfusion specialist Apeksha Hospital, Dr. Lakmali Morawaka said that annually at least 50 cancer patients had to undergo BMTs.

Dr. Anil Dissanayake, former Director National Blood Transfusion Service, Dr. Sasikala Suresh, Consultant Haematologist and Dr. Samanmalee Gunasekara Consultant Microbiologist also addressed the gathering.

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