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Dhaka Tribune

DMCH misses bone marrow transplant schedule

Update : 26 Oct 2013, 07:24 PM

Despite much anticipation and hype surrounding the country’s first ever bone marrow transplant (BMT) operation, the authorities at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) failed to meet the scheduled October 26 date for the procedure on Saturday.

Hospital authorities however now expect the procedure to take place two or three weeks later.

Seeking anonymity, several officials at the health ministry and the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Dhaka Tribune that BMT experts shifted the date because the high-tech Flow Cytometer machine had gone out of order within less than 15 days of its installation.

Sources also said the chief expert technician who was involved with the installation of the machine was currently in India, but was expected to return in a couple of days to identify the problem.

Senior DMCH officials said no risk would be taken before carrying out the first ever transplant, although the problem was of minor nature. The Flow Cytometer, which cost more than Tk10m, was bought from the US.

Director of the DMCH Brigadier General Dr Mustafizur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune that the date had to be shifted for the lack of some preparations, but expressed hopes that the first BMT will be carried out after two or three weeks.

Asked about the out-of-order machine, the director said he was not aware about that.  

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the five blood cancer patients whose stem cells were collected by the BMT experts, have been released from the hospital.

Earlier on October 20, Health Minister Dr AFM Ruhal Hoque inaugurated a newly built five-bed BMT unit and a high-tech BMT laboratory at the DMCH which cost Tk200m to be set up. He also expressed hopes that the country’s first bone marrow transplant would take place on October 26.

Prof Dr MA Khan, head of the DMCH hematology department, informed that the date was shifted because of a few technical problems. Although he declined to share details on the decision, Dr Khan said the patients were released to go and meet relatives and friends before going for the BMT procedure.

On the other hand, a doctor and a nurse of the six-member BMT expert team from Massachusetts General Hospital, returned to the US on Friday.

It has been learnt that the new DMCH unit will be able to bring down the cost of the transplant to Tk500,000, compared to BMT costs of around Tk10m in the US, over Tk5m in Singapore, and over Tk4m in India.

Bone marrow transplant has the potential to cure the blood disorder thalassaemia (major and minor), several types of bone cancer, and other non-malignant and non-cancerous diseases.

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