Chicago Physician Helps Launch Bone Marrow Unit in Bangalore

Posted: March 19, 2015 at 3:47 pm

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Newswise A bone marrow transplant can mean the difference between life and death for people with blood cancers and related disorders. But many patients in India cant afford the high treatment costs, and for them a transplant is not an option. This is changing thanks to a newly launched bone marrow transplant unit at M.S. Ramaiah Medical College in Bangalore.

The five-bed unit, which opened last month, was established by local physicians and hospital administrators working with Dr. Damiano Rondelli, director of the blood and marrow transplant program at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System.

Bone marrow transplants in India are done mainly at nonacademic institutions and can be prohibitively expensive. Clinical standards, including infection control, can vary at these unaccredited transplant programs.

Ramaiah aims to become the first internationally accredited bone marrow transplant program in India. It will provide transplantation under high standards of care and at a significantly lower cost. The service will be subsidized by revenues from the for-profit hospital associated with the medical college.

Its a very nice model -- sustainable, and every patient gets the same treatment, regardless of what they can pay, said Rondelli.

Rondelli first visited Ramaiah in October at the invitation of his colleague Bellur S. Prabhakar, professor and head of microbiology and immunology and associate dean for technological innovation and training at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. Prabhakar had been meeting with leaders at Ramaiah to discuss working together through UICs Center for Global Health.

One of the things they wanted to do was to establish a world-class bone marrow transplantation unit, said Prabhakar.

The need for bone marrow transplantation is high in India, a country of more than a billion people. Southeast Asians have a higher genetic risk for thalassemia, a disorder of hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the tissues. Bone marrow transplantation is the only cure.

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Chicago Physician Helps Launch Bone Marrow Unit in Bangalore

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