Challenges of bone marrow transplant for sickle cell disease in resource limited setting

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Chisara Sylvestina Okolo and Ayodeji Olusola Dickson Olayanju

AJLHTS: Original Paper



Sickle cell disorders (SCD) are a group of inherited disorders that results from both parent being carriers, haemoglobin AS resulting in haemoglobin (SS), causing anemia, infections, pain, stroke, priapism, sequenstration crisis, multiple organ dysfunctions etc. There are several ways of managing sickle cell disorder but the best way, which is considered a gold standard cure for the disease is a successful bone marrow transplant of haematopoietic stem cells (HSCT). Bone marrow (BM), Peripheral blood (PBSC) and Umbilical cord blood (UCB) are rich in stem cells. In order to have a good bone marrow transplant, without graft rejection, the laboratory plays a vital role especially in compatibility testing of donor and recipients at the various stages of the transplant, which includes initial stage, during the transplant and follow up testing to ensure tolerance to the new graft and testing for chimerism. There are various types of transplant which include Autologous, Allogeneic (Sibling/Unrelated Donor), Parent or relative, etc. The various pre transplant tests includes: Sickling test, High Performance Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC), Genetic studies, RBC Indices Hb 6-9 gm/dL, Peripheral Smear, Retic count Reticulocytosis, ESR, Bone marrow analysis. Post-transplant test Includes Engraftment Analysis, Complete Blood counts, kidney function, liver function, Cholesterol, HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, additional infectious studies (Endemic testing), Urinalysis etc. Haemopoietic transplantation challenges in a resource limited settings like Nigeria are enormous and they includes: Danger of serious illness associated with donor-to-patient stem cell transplant, lack of appropriate donors, Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), Inadequate Human resource, Inadequate equipped facility, cost of the service, Corruption, Lack of political will, Leadership incompétence,

Chisara Sylvestina Okolo,Ayodeji Olusola Dickson Olayanju 

strategic planing, Policy inconsistency, Lack of qualified personnel, Poor healthcare administration, Conflict of interest among health workers. The cost of Bone Marrow Transplantation is highly exorbitant to Nigerians and government need to play vital role towards funding part of the cost and alleviating the pain of sickle cell. Effective implementation of National Health Insurance Scheme and address corruption are the most efficient ways the cost would be subsidized. Appropriate information campaigns largely championed by maternal and child healthcare professionals would significantly contribute to raising the level of awareness and acceptance of Cord Blood donation. Training and re training of medical personnel cannot be over emphasized.

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