|Title||Setting up low-risk bone marrow transplantation for children with thalassemia may facilitate pediatric cancer care|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2013|
|Publication Name||South Asia Journal of Cancer|
Background: In many South Asian countries there is shortage of centers providing care for pediatric malignancies. This report describes the experience of the Cure2Children Foundation (C2C) in supporting, both financially and professionally, the startup of two bone marrow transplant (BMT) centers, one in Pakistan and one in India, for the cure of transfusion-dependent thalassemia. Even though transplantation is generally considered as a more complex and advanced step relatively to basic pediatric cancer care, the authors argue that BMT for low-risk thalassemia patients with a matched sibling is a relatively simple procedure amenable to focused training.
Materials and Methods: Since 2008 the C2C, an Italian Nongovernmental Organization (NGO), has supported a BMT network in Pakistan. The primary aim of this project was to assess feasibility, outcomes, and costs of matched-related BMT for thalassemia in young low-risk children employing a well established and quite tolerable strategy employed in Italy. This initiative relied primarily on focused training and task-shift strategies within a structured cooperation program. The initial success of that strategy led to its replication in India with 100 total BMTs performed over the past 4 years, 91 of which were for thalassemia major.
Results: Low-risk matched-related BMT in children younger than 5 years could deliver a 92% thalassemia-free survival with 100% performance score and no extensive chronic graft versus host disease (GVHD), for an average cost of 10,000 USD per BMT. Within an existing hospital facility, 50,000 USD were sufficient to renovate and fully equip a 2-3 bedded start up BMT unit capable of performing safe low-risk compatible marrow transplantation. Conclusions: In low resource settings matched-related low-risk BMT for thalassemia can be performed with outcomes comparable to richer countries and with a fraction of the costs. Within structured and intensive cooperation, good outcomes can be obtained from the very beginning. This observation may have important implications to increase access to cure for both nonmalignant and malignant.