Thalassemia Major is an inherited blood disorder which is characterized at an early age by symptoms of severe anemia. Previously there has been no known cure for the disease, and until now the only known treatment has been constant blood transfusions every 4 to 6 weeks throughout life, one common complication from which is often secondary hemochromatosis, also known as iron overload, which often leads to organ failure and death. Left untreated, this particular form of Thalassemia will cause bone deformities and death within the first decade of life.
Because of this disease, the white blood cell count of this particular 4-year-old boy had dropped to zero. He was admitted to a cancer research institute in his home country of India where he was then treated with his younger sister’s cord blood, which had been banked at the Cryo Stem Cell Institute in Bangalore. The boy’s white blood cell count is now rising and he is expected to be released in 6 weeks. This is the first stem cell transplant of its type in eastern India and it offers new hope not only in the treatment of this disease but also in the treatment of other previously incurable conditions.