Vietnam successfully carries out first unrelated hematopoietic stem cell transplant

Thursday, 2017-11-16 10:56:34
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A. has been saved from a cross-border anonymous donor’s stem cells.
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NDO – The first successful unrelated hematopoietic stem cell transplant has been carried out at the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, as announced by the hospital on November 16.

According to the hospital’s director, Doctor Phu Chi Dung, on May 15, the hospital received Q.D.A., a 1992 born patient from the southernmost Ca Mau province diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML).

A's disease is very rare, with only 3-4 cases/1 million people/year, mostly in people over 60. For this malignant haematopoietic disease, the only method for effective treatment and possibly cessation is to undergo a haematopoietic stem cell transplantation from healthy donors. If no transplant is available in time, he might only live up to 20-30 months.

However, due to the inability to find a donor from the patient’s relatives with matched human leucocyte antigen (HLA), the hospital contacted the Tzu Chi Medical Centre in Chinese Taipei to find a suitable donor.

On July 14, the Tzu Chi Centre informed them that it had found a candidate with compatible HLA with the patient. On September 20, the HCMC-based hospital carried out the nation’s first non-blood peripheral stem cell transplant for Q.D.A. The transplant process was closely monitored by a panel of experts with more than 20 years of experience in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation at the hospital.

At present, the patient has entered the 57th day of post-transplantation recovery with gradually stabilising health. Test results confirm that 100% of the cells generated are from stem cells donated by the donor.

A. is watching his stem cell transplant.

According to Doctor Dung, this is the first unrelated blood stem cell transplant in Vietnam, marking a great step forward in treatment and opening up new hope for curing malignant diseases in cases without suitable family donors for blood stem cells.

In Vietnam, the first stem cell transplant was performed at the HCMC Hospital of Hematology and Blood Transfusion in 1995. To date, the hospital has transplanted 262 patients with three types of stem cells, including bone marrow stem cells, blood umbilical cord, and hematopoietic stem cells from peripheral blood. All stem cells have the same blood relation.

Currently, the cost of each hematopoietic stem cell transplant in Vietnam is about VND800 million, of which 60% is covered by health insurance. This cost is only one tenth of that of Singapore, and one fifth compared to Chinese Taipei.

However, the problem is that many patients do not find the right HLA stem cells. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, there have been no stem cell banks from donors. Therefore, some cases have to go abroad to find suitable stem cell sources.

In an effort to expand the search for stem-cell samples for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, the hospital has worked with several large stem cell banks, including the Tzu Chi Centre. Tzu Chi is one of the largest stem cell storage centres in Asia, providing stem cells to treatment facilities in 30 countries around the world with the total number of patients receiving stem cells up to nearly 4,500 people.

On April 15, 2016, the HCMC hospital signed a cooperation agreement with Tzu Chi Centre, under which the Chinese Taipei centre carries out HLA tests to find suitable donors and provides stem cell samples for the Vietnamese hospital to perform transplantation.