The stem cell transplant program in Pakistan - The first decade

T. S. Shamsi, K. Hashmi, S. Adil, P. Ahmad, M. Irfan, S. Raza, N. Masood, U. Shaikh, T. Satti, T. Farzana, S. Ansari

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Stem cell transplantation is curative in a number of otherwise fatal hematological diseases. In Pakistan, SCT was started in October 1995 at Dr Ziauddin Hospital by Dr Tahir Shamsi and his team. The first case was of a young man suffering from AML. In 1999, allogeneic BMT was started at Bismillah Taqee Institute of Health Sciences and Blood Diseases Centre, Karachi. In 2001, the Armed Forces Bone Marrow Transplant Centre, started functioning. Since then, over 350 allogeneic stem cell transplants have been carried out in these latter two centers. Another 50 autologous procedures were carried out in all centers. In 2004, a third center started transplants at the Aga Khan Hospital. The main indications for transplant are aplastic anemia, β-thalassemia major and hematological malignancies. HLA-identical sibling donors provide stem cells for the recipient. In 70% of cases, a matched donor is identified. In sharp contrast to the rest of the world, the majority of transplants are allogeneic, donor-recipient pairs are CMV positive and fungal infection, tuberculosis and malaria are particular problems. The early results are promising, with transplant-related mortality reported to be 10-20%, whereas long-term survival is reported to be 78, 72 and 49% in aplastic anemia, β-thalassemia major and leukemia, respectively. Financial constraints, poor socioeconomic status, poor transfusion services, trained human resources and difficulty in keeping pace with technological advances are major hurdles in the growth of transplant medicine. Government support is badly needed to strengthen existing facilities and to develop more centers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S114-S117
JournalBone Marrow Transplantation
Issue numberSUPPL.1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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