Pak child with rare medical condition treated in Bengaluru

Bengaluru,Dec17:Zeenia, all of two and a half years, had developed Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a condition in which the bone marrow produces abnormal cells that eat away normal marrow cells.
A life-threatening condition, it is characterised by high fever, low blood count and liver and spleen enlargement.

When her parents were about to give up on finding help, a fellow Pakistani, who had successfully undergone a bone marrow transplant in Bengaluru, referred them to doctors at Narayana Health (NH).

Zeenia’s parents, from Sahiwal in central Punjab in Pakistan, brought her to Bengaluru in August 2016. In October, she successfully underwent a transplant, and is now ready to fly back.

Medical history

Zeenia was like any other infant. When she was 11 months old, she developed high, persistent fever.

Under normal conditions, the fever subsides on administration of antibiotics and supportive care. But this was not the case with Zeenia.

After examination at Narayana Health, doctors found that her little brother Rayan’s Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) matched fully with hers.

HLA is a protein found in most cells in the human body and is used to match donors for bone marrow transplants.

The parents agreed to allow doctors to extract the bone marrow from infant Rayan.
At a press conference on Friday, doctors who had attended on Zeenia said the challenge was to extract the bone marrow from the eight-month-old infant.

Dr Sunil Bhat, senior consultant and head of Pediatric Haematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant, said: “An infant’s bones are very soft and supple. Extracting the stipulated dosage was also challenging.”

“However, by using small needles, we successfully extracted enough marrow to cure Zeenia,” Bhat said.

He said Rayan had not only saved his sister but also earned the distinction of being the youngest marrow donor in India.

Ziaulla, Zeenia’s father, said, “Back home, diseases like HLH are mired in misconceptions. There is a perception that it is not curable.

“In fact, we had given up hope. We are grateful to the entire team of doctors and medical staff for curing my daughter.”

Gift of warmth for Zeenia

Zeenia’s family is flying back to Pakistan with happy memories from Bengaluru. “We had no inconvenience here. People have been warm. We have not faced discrimination of any sort,” Zeenia’s father Ziaulla said on Friday.

He said he would start an online page and share Zeenia’s story. “It will create awareness about the illness and possible treatments,” he said.