Indians find HLA match among German donors

It may to hard to believe, but many of Indian patients are finding their human leukocyte antigen (HLA) match among the Caucasian race, more so from German donors.

HLA typing is used to match patients and donors for bone marrow transplant (BMT) surgery, and the antigen match is required for those patients suffering from genetic disorders like Thalassemia, blood cancer and among other diseases.

According to Dr Sharat Damodar, clinical director, Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center, and senior consultant, Hematology & Transplant Unit, Narayana Health City, said that it is rather strange to find HLA match for Indian patients with the Caucasian race, especially from Germans since the race is so different.

“A 10-year-old boy from Kolar, suffering from aplastic anaemia, found his donor after a persistent search in the German registry of donors. Fortunately, all the 10 antigens matched making it easy for the bone marrow transplant surgery,” added Dr Sharat.

He said that many times, HLA of people from North-East would not match with that of Gujaratis. But, the match with the Germans might be due to some ancestors, who could have been from the same family long ago or some genetic mixture.

The boy's case has not been the first, Dr Sharat in his career has seen many HLA matching from Germany, which manages the largest donor registry in the world.

Dr Sharat said that India is lagging behind in maintaining BMT registry for the kind of population it has. Maintaining the records of donors, including tests conducted for HLA profiling, is expensive.  Moreover, just registering donors is not enough. The donor must be accessible and must come forward to help in the hour of need.  Even in terms of accessibility for BMT procedures, it is still not covered under any government health insurance scheme, he added.

India treat approximately 1500 BMT cases every year, which is far less as compared to other countries like China, Japan, Korea. The East Asian countries treat about 8,000 cases every year.

Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Center at Narayana Health City celebrated after having successfully treated 1,000 patients with bone marrow transplant for various blood-related diseases here on Wednesday. Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson and managing director, Biocon Limited, and Dr. Devi Shetty, chairman and executive director, Narayana Health, were present at the event.

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Indians find HLA match among German donors

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