An extraordinary operation was performed in Pisa when a 5 year old boy from Tuscany with acute lymphoblastic leukemia underwent a bone marrow transplant last night with stem cells explanted from a patient in Japan where the only donor with virological and histological compatibility was found after a 6-7 month worldwide search. The stem cell infusion was performed at the Pediatric Oncohematology Unit at the University of Pisa Hospital directed by Claudio Favre, one of the seven internationally accredited centers collaborating with the national Italian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (IBMDR).
The infusion procedure, reported the hospital in Pisa, lasted about 7 hours and the child is well. Doctors hope that intensive chemotherapy along with total body irradiation last week and the newly implanted stem cells will repopulate the boy’s bone marrow and allow him to fight the disease.
The hospital underlined that what took place between Italy and Japan was a true marathon of solidarity including, in addition to both hospitals and medical teams in both Pisa and Tenri (Southeast Japan), the Italian Civil Protection Service, which provided the airplane that flew from Osaka to Pisa allowing the stem cells to be transported by the only compatible donor found out of 12 million in the entire world.
“After a 26 hour flight, the precious cargo arrived in Pisa on Friday morning at 11:30″ , told sources at the hospital in Pisa, which boasts 35 transplants per year performed by the Pediatric Oncohaematology Unit and totaling 600 since 2001. A note stated that “The cells removed previously underwent all of the necessary tests according to Istituto Superiore di Sanita’ (Italian National Health Institute -ISS) protocols for donor histocompatibility, as well as testing for infections and viruses. The marrow cells were tested overnight and then the medical team performed the infusion”.
The Italian Bone Marrow Donor Registry was founded in 1989 by the Galliera Hospital in Genoa with the goal of obtaining marrow for hematology patients waiting for transplants from unrelated compatible donors with immunogenetic characteristics giving an elevated probability of success.
The IBMDR was recognized as a national and international coordination center in 2001 and today is one of 67 structures in 43 countries with the objective of finding unrelated compatible donors for patients waiting for hematopoietic stem cell transplants.