Low cost treatment for sickle cell disease at govt hospital

Kathmandu, May 24

Sickle cell patients can now get quality treatment at a low cost as a government hospital has unveiled the procedure of red blood cell exchange transfusion for sickle cell disease with machine.

Civil Service Hospital started this service recently. With its availability, patients suffering from sickle cell disease will now be able to get treatment at low cost and will also avail quality health service.

Sickle cell anaemia is a genetic disease caused by mutation of red blood cells where haemoglobin forms into stiff rods within the red blood cells taking the shape of a sickle. These sickle-shaped cells do not last for more than 20 days. Formation of sickle cells in the body hinders the formation of new cells which results in anaemia.

Red cell exchange transfusion is given for acute and chronic treatment of sickle cell anaemia. This therapy boosts oxygen-carrying capacity by reducing viscosity of blood. When the blood is viscous, cells change their shape into a sickle. “The machine can find out the level of viscosity in the blood. Earlier, it was not possible manually. The therapy will be helpful for sickle cell anaemic patients who should undergo immediate surgery for multifarious diseases as the procedure is quick and qualitative,” said Bishesh Poudyal, chief, Clinical Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Civil Service Hospital, Minbhawan.

There is not much pricking and piercing in the patients’ body during this process. The procedure can be completed within three to four hours and is reliable, according to doctors. The hospital, however, has not fixed charges for the services. “We are yet to fix the charges. We are trying to provide the services at low prices,” he said. The hospital is also adding one more machine to provide quick services to increasing number of patients.

The hospital has also extended its bone marrow transplantation services for patients of fanconi anaemia — a rare genetic disease that affects bone marrow. It results in decreased production of all types of blood cells, leading to serious complications, such as bone marrow failure. It can lead to low blood cell count or severe aplastic anaemia. The transplantation has been performed on a nine-year-old boy.

Haploidentical transplant has been performed on the patient. Haploidentical transplant is a modified form of stem cell transplant in which a healthy first degree relative — a parent, or sibling — can often serve as a donor. “When matched donor is not available, half-matched related donors are safely used in stem cell transplantation,” said the doctor.