The Federal Government has been urged to set up stem cell transplant centres in all geopolitical zones across the country so as to minimize the number of persons who embark on foreign medical trips for the treatment of sickle cell anaemia.
Chief Medical Director of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Michael Ibadin, made the call yesterday when the National Good Governance Tour team visited the hospital’s stem cell transplant centre.
Ibadin said though cancer patients can also be treated there, the major beneficiaries are sickle cell patients. He said that at the center, sickle cell anaemia patients have their genotypes changed from SS to AA.
The centre, which is the first in West Africa and third in Africa, has so far carried out two procedures, which were both successful.
“The procedure takes one day but the patient is kept for 100 days to undergo series of examinations. It costs between N4 to 6 million but it can be reduced,” he said.
Ibadin, who said N60 million has so far been spent on the project, appealed to the government for more funds to enable them expand the facility. He added that the hospital carried out its first transplant in September 2011.
A consultant haematologist and specialist in bone marrow transplant, Godwin Bazwaye, said it is advisable for persons with sickle cell to undergo the procedure when they are between the age of 15 and below, as there is a higher risk in adults.
On the risk of infertility being caused by the treatment, Bazwaye said, “In the past, we used to administer a high dose which sometimes causes infertility because the sperm is destroyed but right now, we use a reduced modified intensity to prevent infertility”.