First bone marrow transplant likely in July


LAHORE: The Punjab government has nominated Dr Tahir Shamsi, professor of Haematology/Oncology and Internal Medicine, National Institute of Blood Disease NIBD), Karachi, as convener to the bone marrow transplant project at Children’s Hospital, Lahore.

The Punjab Health Department issued a notification to the effect on Tuesday, giving the go-ahead to start bone marrow transplant in the public sector health facility.

Prof Shamsi will coordinate with the institute’s management to finalise preparations for the first bone marrow transplant in July this year.

The government has also released funds to the tune of Rs231 million for the provision of medical and surgical equipment besides Rs27m for completion of infrastructure.

“It is for the first time that the Punjab government is taking practical measures to provide the facility of bone marrow transplant for the ailing kids, realising sufferings of their parents,” a senior official close to the scheme told Dawn.

Children’s Hospital gets infrastructure, project convener

Earlier, he said it had been trumpeting establishment of the first public sector bone marrow transplant centre. However, nothing was done for years despite knowing the fact that a number of children was dying every year due to non-availability of the treatment.

He said every year approximately 5,000 children required bone marrow transplant and a majority of them died.

However, this facility was available in the private sector in three major cities, including Karachi, one of the largest centres, Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Parents had to bear Rs4 million for each bone marrow transplant at one of the private centres.

Some types of diseases of the children living with thalassemia and cancer are curable through this procedure.The official said it would be the 60-bed critical health facility at the Children’s Hospital in Lahore to initiate bonemarrow transplant absolutely free.

He said the sole scheme in government hospital (Children’s) was delayed for years due to two major reasons – lack of trained manpower and funds.

Talking about the lack of trained staff, he said the Children’s Hospital had sent abroad four doctors to get training under an agreement with Royal College of Paediatric and Children Health, London.

“It was a matter of grave concern that all the doctors got jobs there after completing training,” he said.

The official added as they had been certified by the London institute and their market value tremendously increased, they refused to return to Pakistan.

Later, the Children’s Hospital management preferred lady doctors and sent them to the same institute and they committed to serve their country.

The official said two of them got training in the paediatric haematology, oncology and bone marrow transplant and re-joined the hospital.

Children’s Hospital Medical Director Dr Ahsan Waheed Rathore said the institute was now fully manned with highly qualified doctors for the bone marrow project. “We have received a first batch of internationally trained medics — Dr Mehvish, Dr Alia Ahmad and Dr Sadia Anwar — to start bonemarrow transplant.”

He said: “Now we have enrolled six doctors for second fellowship programme with the coordination of College of Physicians Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP).”

It was the first batch of FCPS qualified doctors of its kind in Pakistan which will complete training of second fellowship to help start bone marrow transplant in government sector, he said.

They will be able to get super specialisation in haematology, oncology and bone marrow transplant.

“The nomination of Prof Dr Tahir Shamsi was another major initiative and now we have set a deadline of July this year to conduct first bone marrow transplant in the public sector hospital,” Dr Rathore said adding that the infrastructure had already been provided.

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