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Stem cell transplant saves three-year-old thalassemia patient

Update: August, 14/2015 - 14:36
Three-year-old boy Tran Gia Hung, from northern Ha Nam Province, was transplanted stem cells to treat thalassemia at National Institute of Haematology and Blood Transfusion on Wednesday. — Photo

HA NOI — Doctors at the National Institute of Haematology and Blood Transfusion successfully conducted a stem cell transplant to save a three-year-old boy suffering from thalassemia on Wednesday, the institute said yesterday.

The transplant is the first of its kind in Viet Nam.

The umbilical cord blood samples were taken from the patient's two-year-old sister for use in the transplant operation.

Dr Nguyen Ba Khanh from the institute's stem cell centre said without the stem cell transplant, the boy would need blood transfusion all his life and would be exposed to risks such as excessive iron in blood and kidney failure.

He said the boy was given special care and his health had improved.

The institute's Director Nguyen Anh Tri said the successful transplant was good news for thalassemia patients and would pave the way for thalassemia treatment in Viet Nam.

The country has about 10 million people carrying the thalassemia gene, while an estimated 20,000 are thalassemia patients, requiring treatment.

The institute said the basic thalassemia treatment methods were blood transfusions and iron elimination.

Thalassemia is a genetic blood disorder. People with thalassemia are not able to make enough haemoglobin, which causes severe anemia. Haemoglobin is found in red blood cells and carries oxygen to all parts of the body. When there is not enough haemoglobin in the red blood cells, oxygen cannot reach all parts of the body. Organs then become starved for oxygen and are unable to function properly. — VNS

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