Akshat Jain

Indian American pediatric hematologist-oncologist Akshat Jain is seen with one of his patients in Los Angeles, Calif. Jain was one of three doctors who led the team at the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital in Loma Linda, Calif., that performed a successful stem cell transplant on a young patient. (photo provided)

The pediatric hematology-oncology team at the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital in Loma Linda, Calif., led by Indian American doctors Akshat Jain and Rishi Chavan along with Quan Zhao, recently performed the hospital’s first-ever stem cell transplantation for Sickle Cell disease.

The surgery was performed with no complications, Jain told India-West in an e-mail.

Sickle Cell disease is a genetic disease of red blood cells that affects children since birth. One in seven African American children suffers from some form of Sickle Cell disease in the U.S., said Jain, adding that India has the world’s third largest population suffering from this disease. Children suffer from severe pain episodes throughout their lives and die early from complications of this disease, he added.

As this is the disease of the cells made from the bone marrow, Jain explained, by removing the patient’s defective marrow cells and transplanting healthy stem cells into the patient from a matched donor, the disease can be controlled and even cured.

But the lack of a suitable matched donor leaves most of the patients around the world to suffer as transplantation is not possible, he said.

Jain said his team bypassed this problem by using the patient’s father’s cells and using a special technique called “Haploidentical Transplantation” to cure the little girl from her lifelong disease that had caused her to use a wheelchair due to the severe and repeated pain episodes because of the dying bone cells.

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