A 70-year-old woman with coronary artery disease underwent stem cell transplant at a private hospital in Coimbatore in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu recently.
Stem cell transplant is a complex procedure to replace unhealthy stem cells with healthy ones. The procedure does not involve surgery and the organ involved is bone marrow.
If all goes well, the infused healthy stem cells take hold in the body and begin normal production of blood cells.
Dr G Bakthavathsalam, the chairman of the KG Hospital where the transplant was done, told reporters here on Saturday that 100 ml of the patient's bone marrow (taken from the hip bone) was sent to the Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine Centre, at the state capital of Chennai and is an Indo-Japan joint venture.
At the centre, 20 ml of the mononuclear cells were separated and sent back to the KG hospital. They were then injected into the heart muscles of the patient through coronary arteries within half an hour of its arrival.
This treatment cost comes around Rs 1,30,000. The treatment will take one month to six months to yield result, the doctor said.
The transplanted stem cells could make their way into the bone marrow cavities where they begin to produce new bone marrow and stem cells.
Through this process, the pumping capacity of the heart could be increased and the quality of life of the patient improved, Bakthavathasalam said.
He congratulated Dr Y Y Rao, Director, Stem Cell Therapy and his team for successfully transplanting the stem cells.
``This is the beginning of stem cell era. It has a wide array of applications, including in such areas as liver disease, neurological problems, spinal cord injuries and diabetic foot ulcer. However, the awareness regarding stem cell therapy is low even among medical practitioners, '' Bakthavathsalam regretted.
Dr Rao said that this was the first time that stem cell transplant for heart disease had been done outside Chennai in the state.
``There is no risks involved. The procedure can be done even in a 90-year-old patient,'' he added.