During the peak of the first wave of Covid-19 pandemic in March last year, Maryam (name changed), a 20-year-old college student from Kulgam district, felt pain in her left hip.
She consulted a local Orthopaedist who after seeing her X-Ray report advised her to conduct a CT scan which showed a cancer in her left hip bone area. Being a peripheral hospital, doctors could not ascertain what sort of cancer she had so they in August 2020 referred her to SKIMS after she developed severe pain and was not able to walk. Here she was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (a type of cancer).
It was unusual for this age to have such a condition.
A doctor at SKIMS said her biopsy was reviewed for a second opinion and diagnosis was established. She was started on local treatment for a huge 2 kgs tumor mass in her pelvic bone area.
In view of her high risk disease at a very young age, doctors decided to do a bone marrow transplant. However her family was unable to bear the expensive treatment.
Maryam was enrolled for RAN scheme at SKIMS through which she got all her finance of about 5 lakh needed for the transplant with full support from Director SKIMS, Dr A.G. Ahangar.
After Maryam was told that a bone marrow transplant is a curable treatment for her illness, she could not wait for the surgery. In the month of April 2021 during the peak of the second wave of Covid, she received a successful bone marrow transplant.
This was followed by chemotherapy for six months after which she achieved disease free status.
Bone marrow transplant is performed for patients with certain cancers of the blood or bone marrow, and was started by SKIMS Srinagar in 2010.
Dr Gul Mohammad Bhat, head department of Medical Oncology and Stem Cell Transplant said till date the institute has successfully performed the procedure in more than 70 patients including Maryam with different cancers.
Dr Bhat said for Maryam, a team of doctors, paramedics of the department chalked out the plan of the transplant and the patient received a successful bone marrow transplant in April 2021.
After remaining admitted for around a month she was discharged in a healthy condition and is currently on follow up and doing well.
With the successful transplant of Maryam, the premier institute has completed one decade of uninterrupted bone marrow transplant services for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
As per doctors, bone marrow transplant is transforming medicine and with it the lives of increasing numbers of patients with life threatening illnesses are saved daily.
“The first transplant was done in December 2010 and since then there is no looking back despite multiple hardships. The good news is that the first patient, now a retired bank employee, is cherishing his life to the fullest after his superannuation,” Dr Bhat said.
He said bone marrow transplant, a groundbreaking form of treatment, has contributed to the successful treatment of multiple diseases be it cancers or non cancerous diseases.
At the institute the transplant has been performed on patients with different cancers like Multiple Myeloma, Non Hodgkins Lymphomas, Hodgkins Lymphoma, Acute Leukemias, Neuroblastoma etc.
Dr Bhat said both autologous and allogeneic transplants are performed in the Department with very satisfied success rates.
He said the department has the distinction of performing the first Haplo identical Stem cell transplant in a case of Relapsed Acute Myeloid Leukemia which is done at very few centers in India.
The BMT unit is a recognized centre and is registered under Indian Society for Blood and Marrow Transplant (ISBMT) and Asia Pacific Society for Blood & Marrow Transplant (APBMT), a rare feat achieved by SKIMS Deemed University.
Dr Bhat who has been trained in Medical Oncology from prestigious AIIMS, said SKIMS is among the best government hospitals in North India as far as medical oncology and stem cell transplant services are considered.
“In case of Maryam, SKIMS not only welcomed the patient, but decided to bear the expenses of her transplant also,” he said.
He said the department has been recently shifted to State Cancer Institute, a Government of India funded project for SKIMS with augmentation of bed capacity from 20 to 30 beds.
The department has thanked Director SKIMS, Dr A.G.Ahangar for extending every possible help to the department whether it is logistics, space or finances.
The department has appealed the institute’s administration to designate a separate BMT unit under the department of Medical Oncology as per GOI guidelines.