By Pratibha Masand
It was a happy moment for twenty–six–year–old Nigerian resident, Rebecca, who, till a few months ago, could not move any of her limbs without whimpering in pain. Rebecca had been suffering from arthritis in four of her joints–both hips, a shoulder and a knee, and any kind of movement was very painful .
When Rebecca started having problems in her left hip, the doctors who treated her in Nigeria realized that she was suffering from sickle cell disease, a genetic disorder in which the red blood cells get deformed and damage organs. Her hip was replaced in Nigeria last year.
However, Rebecca developed problems not only in her other hip, but also in her right shoulder and knee. She then decided to approach doctors in Mumbai. "When she came to us, the sickle disease was so severe, that 93% of her hemoglobin was abnormal. Her knee was completely worn out and very stiff,’’ said Dr Sachin Bhonsle, orthopedic surgeon at Fortis Hospital, Mulund.
"Generally, older patients undergo a replacement, so it is all right for them to have replacements which last for around 15 years. However, in this case, we had to find a longer lasting replacement ,’’ he added.
Even though Rebecca’s right hip and the shoulder was replaced in the Fortis Hospital in April, the doctors could not perform the knee replacement in the same visit as it would have made recovery difficult.
"As opposed to normal replacement, which lasts for 25 years, we put in a zirconium ceramic coated knee, which will last for 25 years. The metal in a normal replacement wears off faster and cannot be used on people who have metal allergies. But since this replacement is coated with ceramic, the metal is not directly exposed,’’ said Dr Bhonsle.
"I love going out with my friends. But it had become impossible for me to do so. Everything had come to a standstill since a few months. Now, I look forward to going backsoIcan catchup with everything,’’ said an elated Rebecca, who is a media student. So much so, that she is planning to look for a job once she returns to Nigeria on Thursday.
- Red blood cells are normally like discs, but sickle cells assume abnormal shapes
- This disorder causes capillary obstruction which can cause organ damage, spleen seizure, anemia, haemolysis and destruction of certain joints like hips, shoulders and knees.
- The disease is not very common. However, doctors say that 5% of pediatric admissions in central India are that of sickle cell disease.
- Some communities like navabaudha, kunbi and teli are more prone to get the disease.