Veer Patel‘s family members were shattered when they came to know the cost of his treatment. There was no way a farmer from Dabhoi who reared his joint family of 10 members on rotating crop of maize and lentil could shell out Rs 10 to 12 lakh for a stem cell transplant for his son diagnosed with thalassemia major.
The family waited for a year, mulling how to arrange the finances. Finally, the hospital and doctors came to his rescue and offered the entire allogenic stem cell transplant surgery for free. The transplant was done last month and Veer is now on the road to permanent recovery from the disease which otherwise has high a mortality rate.
“Veer has been getting blood transfusions since he was nine-months old. Stem cell transplant is the only permanent solution. Veer belongs to a family of farmers with extremely moderate means and we decided to give him a chance at life. Neither the hospital, nor the doctors charged a single paisa. It feels good to see Veer permanently cured of the disease,” said hematologist at Apollo Hospital Dr. Chirag Shah. He added that Apollo Hospital too waived off all the expenses despite the fact that the procedure required him to be under strict medical vigilance for over one and half months.
Thalassemia major is a condition which requires lifelong blood transfusion and most children die by the age of 15 to 20 years due to complications of iron overload. Veer received about 20 units blood transfusion and iron chelation therapy. Allogenic stem cell transplant was carried out where bone marrow from Veer's 15-year-old elder sister was taken as a source of stem cells. The child was given special medicines to clear off his old blood-making stem cells. The transplant was then performed on March 2 where his sister's healthy stem cells were given.
“Veer will need to come for regular follow up and he will be transfusion free forever. He will need to take some medicines for few months to prevent any complications from transplanted stem cells. Thereafter, he will not need any medicine,” said Dr Shah. Veer‘s father Chandrakant Patel said that they have 10 members in the family. “We could have managed Rs 2 to 3 lakh by mortgaging some property. But, the decision of hospital and doctors to do the procedure gratis has saved my son from the disease,” he said.
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