Reprieve for Kenyans as local hospital launches bone marrow transplant 

The Nairobi west hospital launches the first-ever bone marrow transplant(BMT) treatment unit in the country. This is after years of agony for Kenyans who had to travel abroad for advanced medical procedures like a bone marrow transplant. The unit would provide a broad range of integrated and patient-centric services for the diagnosis of all kinds of blood disorders in adults and children.

“This is a milestone for patients here in Kenya and others seeking medical assistance for cases requiring bone marrow transfer. It’s a step in the right direction to further expand our medical expertise in different medical cases that their treatment isn’t in the country,” remarked Dr Sandeep Goopra, the Chief  Operating Officer at the Nairobi west hospital. 

“Fifty-five year-old Margret * was the first patient to undergo the procedure, on the 10th of October. Margret was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, presently recuperating well and is expected to be discharged in two days. 

The 2hr procedure involves the removal of the infected or bad cells replaced by healthy cells harvested from the patient, explains Dr . Dixit Gaurav, Head of the BMT Unit at The Nairobi West Hospital.

” The process we use is known as autonomous which involves harvesting healthy immature cells from the patient, destroying the patient’s abnormal or damaged cells and then re-injecting the healthy cells to the patient. The patient has a 75 to 80% chance of recovery after the procedure,” he said. 

Dr Dixit further explained that the BMT procedure can only be conducted on children, and adults patients not exceeding the age of 65-year and offers hope of a cure in treating blood cancers like Acute Myeloid Leukemia(AML) and Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia( ALL) that would otherwise be difficult to treat with conventional chemotherapy alone.

“It is usually a safe procedure for patients with sickle cell disease if done at a young age. It is important to note that this therapy is evidence-based across the globe, and now readily available in Kenya for all who may need it.”

The hospital can now admit six patients at a go and has sterility unit equipment with 6 BMT suits, one for a child and 5 for adults who have already undergone the procedure and are recuperating.

Dr.Andrew Gachii pathologist, Chief Medical Director at the facility says the BMT unit would relieve Kenyans of the costly process of travelling abroad for treatment. He said the milestone would put Kenya on the map as a medical destination for patients seeking BMT treatment across East Africa and Africa at large.

“Accessing quality care for diseases requiring such procedures has always been costly. Patients have resulted to travelling to India and other countries to access treatment. Having considered that, we are trying to contain the cost of a bone marrow transplant here at our facility. We are anticipating between 25,000 to 35,000 dollars which is less than the millions spent to accommodate the same treatment outside the country.

Furthermore, we are pulling in different stakeholders including insurance companies to tackle the cost. Discussions are already underway with NHIF to accommodate the same,” he said. Dr . Andrew said there’s a need for collaboration with other institutions to conduct training with internationally recognised specialists to further enhance the treatment in different health institutions in the country.

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