Gov’t Procures Sh1.9b Bone Marrow Transplant Machines.
By Julius Adiga
The Government has procured two state of the Art specialized machines worth Sh 1.9b for separating various human blood components as part of the process for starting bone marrow transplant and cellular therapies in the country.
The equipment include the; Trima Accel Automated Blood Collection System and Spectra and Optia Apheresis System. Costing $ 500,000, about sh (about sh1.920b) both have been shipped in from Terumo Blood and Cell Technologies a global leader in blood component, therapeutic aphaeresis and cellular technologies in United States of America (USA).
Many Ugandan patients who need the specialized services of bone marrow transplantation have been going to India spending a lot of money in the process.
According to the experts at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) some hospitals in India are charging between sh150M to sh200m for the procedure and accommodation during recovery in the process, so bringing the service nearer to Ugandans will help cut the expenses.
As Uganda Cancer Institute kicks off the process of installation and procurement of machines, training of specialized staff the country is expected to carry out its first bone marrow transplant in 2024.
In an interview with Eyewitness Uganda news Dr.Orem noted that Data from Uganda Medical Board records, Indicate that about 10% of referral abroad is for bone marrow transplant.
Dr. Orem said now, with the procurement of two state-of-the-art machines, Ugandan medics will start carrying out the procedure at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI).
“We want to be at the forefront and that is the essence of having research-led care because all these things are coming out of the research work that is being done” Orem said.
He disclosed that the two machines which were installed at the beginning of October to handle sophisticated cancer treatment services are opening the way for Ugandans to stop going abroad.
“Ugandans who need bone marrow transplants will soon stop travelling abroad to access the services. Plans are underway to enable them to access transplants at UCI.” Dr. Orem noted.
“Uganda Cancer Institute has established capacity for laboratory investigations that will support the bone marrow transplant service once up and running. We are set to start conducting bone marrow transplant treatment for children who present with blood cancers” he added.
According to Dr. Henry Ddungu, a Hematologist consultant at UCI, bone marrow transplant involves taking cells that are normally found in the bone marrow called stem cells, filtering those cells, and giving them back to the patient or sometimes donated to the patient by another person.
He said that if this procedure is successfully done, bone marrow transplant makes a patient get cured from cancer especially children with Lukimneia .
Dr. Ddungu said that UCI is collaborating with the Uganda Blood Transfusion Service in the implementation of the automated blood component collection system since they are the ones responsible for identifying the blood donors.
Ddungu also added that an Aphaeresis System is used for blood cell processing and cell collection by separating the various components of blood like plasma, platelets, white blood cells, red blood cells and stem cells from the blood that is removed from a patient or donor’s body.
He said the equipment will be connected to the blood system of the donor or patient and will be able to separate the various components of the blood.
He further explained that the Trima Accel can collect higher-quality blood components and reduces the risk of bacterial contamination and septic transfusion reactions hence minimizing unnecessary product testing because it immediately shows if collection may require additional quality control testing or not.
Currently its only Muhimbili National Hospital in Tanzania carries out bone marrow transplants in East Africa.