Ahmed with family after the transplantation Manipal India bone marrow
Iraqi teenager Ahmed with his family after the bone marrow transplantation. Ahmed underwent bone marrow transplantation to fight sickle cell disease, with his three-year-old sister acting as donor. Image Credit: Supplied

Thiruvananthapuram: In a rare case of a three-year-old child turning a donor for her teenaged brother, an Iraqi sister and brother have scripted a successful bone marrow transplantation in Bengaluru, India.

Significantly, India is known for a dearth of bone marrow donors despite a staggering demand for bone marrow transplants. The Iraqi teenager identified as Ahmed, 18, who had undergone splenectomy in Iraq, was referred to the Manipal Hospital in Bengaluru because his condition of severe sickle cell disease required bone marrow transplantation.

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The World Marrow Donor Day (WMDD) is celebrated on the third Saturday of September, this year on September 19.

Rare donation by minor

Officials of the Manipal Hospital told Gulf News that it was common for adults to be donors in a bone marrow transplantation but very rare for a 3-year-old to be the donor for an elder sibling.

The child was identified as Darya, and her family is from Kurdistan, Iraq. Her brother Ahmed was also suffering from symptomatic anaemia which needed frequent blood transfusions, and a bone marrow transplantation was considered the best long-term option for him.

One of the key challenges for the medical team at the hospital including doctors Mallikarjun Kalashetty and C. Shivaram was regarding the low volume of blood for the donor, considering her young age. But the team could overcome the challenge and completed the transplantation. Hospital officials claim Ahmed has fully recovered from the sickle cell disease. Ahmed underwent transplantation in February and has not required blood transfusion since then, they said.

WMDD objectives

World Marrow Donor Day is celebrated to express gratitude to donors worldwide. Donors can be siblings, related family members or unrelated donors through donor registries.

Another objective is to raise awareness among general public, policy makers and global leaders about stem cell donation and the impact of blood stem cell transplantation that saves thousands of lives globally each year. For thousands of people facing life-threatening diseases, there are not enough volunteers on the global donor registry.