The Bone Marrow Transplantation Ghana and the Sickle Cell Foundation Clinic of the Greater Accra Regional Hospital has taken delivery of the first-ever Apheresis Machine in Ghana to aid in better treatment of sickle cell disease.
The Machine works in harvesting marrow of a compatible donor without subjecting the person to anaesthesia, processes it and re-infuses it to a sickle cell patient within few hours.
The Apheresis machine has been described as a huge breakthrough in the treatment of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), patient with Leukaemia, and those at the Cancer and Oncology centres at the Korle-Bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching hospitals and other facilities in the country.
SCD is a disorder resulting from the malfunctioning of red blood cell and the most common life-threatening non-communicable diseases in children, where most of them die before adolescence.
When sickle cell disease becomes severe and destructing a child’s life, then the patient would need a bone marrow transplants, which is the only known cure for the disease, medics have said.
Dr Yvonne Brew, a Paediatrician and Head of the Sickle Cell Clinic, Greater Accra Regional Hospital, said the machine “comes as a big relief for patients who need regular blood transfusion because of the complications they have.”
“And for those who will need bone marrow transplant because of the complications like stroke, multiple hospital admissions, and sometimes die, this machine comes in handy.”
Hence SCD patients could just walk in and do an exchange blood transfusion and walk away easily without disrupting a person’s normal duties, Dr Brew said.
Before it was brought in, doctors took more than half of a day to do blood exchange for patients through the pulling out of cells.
She said the process of blood exchange was very cumbersome but with the Apheresis machine that was automated, it became easier to do apheresis of blood.
Dr John Yao Logah, the Chief Executive Officer, Sickle Cell Anaemia Foundation, said with the arrival of the machine, some experts have been brought in to help train the local team in Ghana on its proper operation and care.
It was purchased at 100,000 dollars from TerumoBCT, an American- Japanese manufacturing company based in the USA, funded by Dr Logah and one other doctor.
He said the Bone Marrow Transplantation Ghana, an autonomous foundation, was collaborating with the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health, to operate and manage the SCD Clinic.
Dr Logah said since the Clinic was established at the Hospital in 2017, eight patients had been successfully treated for bone marrow transplants, adding that families did not have to travel outside for such treatment.
He said the first two patients, a nine-year-old boy and a 25-year old woman, were taken through the automated exchange transfusion on the Apheresis machine, free of charge, who would have paid GH¢5,000.00 each.