Abdul Samad, 36-year-old businessman from Pakistan, has doctors in the national capital and a donor from Germany to thank for a fresh lease of life.
A bone marrow transplant was performed to save the life of the businessman at Delhi's B.L. Kapur Memorial Hospital June 20. This was also the first time in Delhi that bone marrow was transplanted from a donor not related to the patient.
Samad was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome - a disorder where the production of blood cells is low in the bone marrow, and the blood cells do not mature normally, bringing down blood platelets and haemoglobin levels drastically.
Blood transfusion was only a temporary solution.
"I was diagnosed with MDS. Doctors in Dubai told me that I needed a bone marrow transplant, and the donor could be immediate relatives, particularly siblings. I returned to Karachi hoping that one of my two brothers or four sisters would have a profile that matched mine... unfortunately none of them did. So I had no option but to find a donor who was unrelated," Samad said.
Samad had run from pillar to post, back and forth between Dubai and Pakistan, but he could not find a facility that would offer a transplant from an unrelated donor.
It was after a search of eight months that he discovered that the procedure could be conducted in New Delhi, with the aid of a German donor whose profile was found to match his.
Doctors said Samad was in need of immediate bone marrow transplant as the count of all three major types of blood cells - red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets - was low.
"This is the first time an unrelated donor was involved in a bone marrow transplant in Delhi. These kind of transplants are generally fraught with risk," said Dharma Choudhary, senior consultant, hemato-oncology, and director, bone marrow transplant.
Three months after the transplant, Samad said he was happy he had undergone the transplant.
"I'm happy that I'm recovering and I'm taking back goodwill from India. Many in Pakistan suffer from bone marrow transplant issues and they are scared of the high prices in the US and the UK. I have already told Pakistani doctors to refer similar MDS cases to India, because I feel that the best treatment is available at a reasonable cost in India," Samad said.
Samad said the treatment cost Rs.16 lakh. In the United States or the United Kingdom, the same procedure might have cost ten times as much.