Breaking new ground, Asiri Hospitals has upgraded its ‘Stem Cell Laboratory’, the first in the private healthcare sector to do so, bringing fresh hope and lifesaving treatment outcomes to patients, especially children, needing bone marrow transplants.
Sri Lanka’s first dedicated Bone Marrow Transplant Centre in the private sector was established by Asiri Central Hospital in 2014 as a pioneering project, and continues to treat patients with even very complex conditions. To-date, the Centre has treated over 60 patients including international patients with over 98% success rate. Continuously maintaining stringent quality standards, the Asiri Bone Marrow Transplant Unit has been accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI).
The Bone Marrow Transplant Centre provides treatment for blood cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and other blood disorders such as thalassemia and aplastic anaemia. The Centre conducts Allogeneic bone marrow transplants, where stem cells are taken from a healthy donor in the same family of the patient.
However, in instances where patients do not have a genetic match among family, Asiri Hospital assures patients of finding matching donors via international registries. Working in collaboration with India’s Datri Registry and other registries in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, Asiri Hospital is able to source possible donors for patients.
The raging pandemic currently affecting the world, where flight cancelations and other delays are routine, is an added challenge for patients. The resulting flight restrictions and limited availability of courier facilities has made the treatment process riskier for patients awaiting bone marrow transplants.
Additionally, postponement of the transplant due to instances where a donor awaiting cells to be harvested contracts the CVID virus, and is subject to quarantine or faces lockdown, whilst the patient awaiting the transplant procedure undergoes the preparatory regimen, where their immune system is reduced to zero, can cause grave risks and is life-threatening for the patient.
This has resulted in the need for stem cells to be processed and stored for use on a later date. It is considered an urgent requirement, especially as timing is a key factor in the transplant process. Understanding the urgency, Asiri Hospitals upgraded its stem cell laboratory which is the only stem cell processing and storage facility available in the private healthcare sector in Sri Lanka, ensuring continuity in performing this critical procedure and patients receive the best possible outcome.
Dr. Lallindra Gooneratne, Consultant Hematologist, Asiri’s Bone Marrow Transplant Centre, noted, “Especially during COVID the international recommendation for allogeneic transplants is that it is best to collect the stem cells from the donor beforehand and store them prior to the transplant. Now, having an upgraded facility we are able to safely prepare and condition the patient, so even if the donor is not available at the required time, we have the stem cells in storage. Our facility is able to store cells for up to one year.”
The upgraded facility is staffed by an expert team including a Consultant Transfusion Physician and a Scientist specially trained in this field and with immense experience in the processing and storage of hematopoietic stem cells.