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Times of India
29 March 2011
By Malathy Iyer
Mumbai, India

Rare Donation Saves Life Of 5–Yr–Old Iraqi With Thalassaemia
From a Mother, With Love
For 10 years, Natuq Nahedh and his parents would every fortnight brave the battle conditions in Iraq’s Diwania state for a blood transfusion. Natuq was diagnosed with thalassaemia when he was five months old and needed the transfusions to maintain the hemoglobin levels in blood.

Then, on Thursday, he received a bone marrow donation from a type of donor who is considered rare in medical circles. A majority of patients needing a bone marrow transplant would depend on their siblings for a match of blood cell parameters, while Natuq found a 100% match with his mother, 30–year–old Bashayeer Radhy.

The bone marrow transplant, which was carried out in Jaslok Hospital, Peddar Road, could end the need for these frequent transfusions. "What is special in this case is the fact that the child found a perfect match in his mother," said Dr Maheboob Basade who conducted the transplant. He added that both the parent and child were doing well though it would take another month to get the final result.

"It is an anxious wait," confessed his father, 38–year–old super market owner Nahedh Saharara, through an interpreter, Wahid Sheikh.

Thalassaemia is a blood disorder that affects the body’s ability to produce hemoglobin, the protein that is instrumental in carrying oxygen to cells. Every year, 100,000 children are born with this disorder across the world; 10,000 of these are born in India.

The disorder is common among certain communities especially those that witness consanguineous marriages or marriages between cousins. But in Natuq’s case, the fact that his parents are cousins resulted in the 100% match with his mother. "We mostly ask patients to get their tissues matched with their siblings as there is 25% chance of a match. With parents, there is barely a 4% chance of a match," said Basade.

Saharara heard about bone marrow transplants being conducted in India from a family friend whose five–yearold son had been cured of thalassaemia barely three months back.

"I had heard about transplants being carried out in Iran but wasn’t sure about the success rate. Going to the US would be expensive. So when out friends suggested Jaslok Hospital, we immediately went for diagnostic test to find a match for Natuq within the family. Basade says he was surprised to find a 100% match between a mother and child. "I asked them to repeat the tests in Mumbai as a result," he said.

Dr Revathi Raj, consultant pediatric hematologist from Apollo Hospital who has been credited with one of the largest series in bone marrow transplants in India, said that mother–child match in rare but not uncommon. "Over 15 of our 400 transplants involve parents. Considering that consanguineous marriages do take place in Asia, it is not uncommon for a 100% match between a parent and child," said Raj.

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