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SCB help for poor patients

- Free chemotherapy & bone marrow transplant

Bhubaneswar/Cuttack, May 7: SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack will be the first government-run health care delivery institution in the country to offer free bone marrow transplant surgery and chemotherapy for poor patients suffering from blood cancer.

The free service, which will run for one year from now, will be delivered in association with eight leading pharmaceutical companies manufacturing drugs on oncology. On April 30, the bone marrow transplant unit became functional at SCB. The unit was inaugurated by health and family welfare minister Damodar Rout on February 26.

At a review meeting organised at the state secretariat today, health secretary Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra said: “Two patients — Shankuntala Sahoo, 54, of Kendrapara and Dhaneswar Jena, 57, from Jajpur — already underwent bone marrow transplant surgery that was conducted by a team of doctors at the unit on April 30 and May 1 respectively. Now, they are doing well.”

“Each pharmaceutical company has assured to finance 10 needy patients in their treatment. But, they have also assured us that more patients could be accommodated for availing the treatment,’’ Mohapatra added.

“We were worried about my mother after she was diagnosed with stage-III multiple myeloma (a form of blood cancer) eight months ago. However, all the treatment and transplant were conducted free of cost at the bone marrow transplant unit at SCB,” said Sakuntala’s son Kishore.

SCB officials said that even though the cost of autologous bone marrow transplant at SCB is around Rs 80,000, it was funded by the Odisha State Treatment Fund and various drug companies. However, outside the state, a patient has to pay something between Rs 8 lakh to Rs 13 lakh for an autologous bone marrow transplant.

“Similarly, the cost of allogenic bone marrow transplant is around Rs 7 lakh at SCB, while the same transplant would cost Rs 25 lakh to Rs 40 lakh outside,” said head of SCB haematology department R.K. Jena.

In case of autologous bone marrow transplant, stem cells (spongy cells in the bone marrow) are collected from the patient, while in allogenic bone marrow transplant, stem cells are collected from another individual and used on the patient.

Jena said that more than 3,000 patients require bone marrow transplant in Odisha, while there are plans to conduct at least four transplants every month at SCB.

At present, 20 patients have been shortlisted for the autologous transplants, which will be conducted in a phased manner in the next couple of months. In view the number of patients requiring bone marrow transplant, the state government has already taken steps to upgrade facilities at SCB.

A dedicated unit will be constructed inside the SCB Medical College and Hospital with all the necessary facilities adhering to international standards along with a provision of twenty bone marrow transplant rooms within the next two years.

Bone bank

SCB Medical College and Hospital will shortly have a bone bank to facilitate treatment of bone cancer, trauma care and degeneration of bones due to severe infection.

The sterile bones can be preserved up to three years in the bank and the state government will invest Rs 25 lakh to procure the equipment. The bone bank at SCB will be the fifth such centre in the country and the first one in east India.