In a rare case, a one-year-old baby girl, who was born through IVF and had HLA-match, saved her 6-year-old brother suffering from thalassemia major. This was achieved through a successful bone marrow transplant. Doctors claim that this rare and unique treatment is recognized as India’s first-ever ‘Savior Sibling’ born through IVF.
The transplant was conducted in March 2020. For the last six months, the brother was under medical supervision to check his health. He is now fine and thalassemia free.
Baby Kavya was conceived through IVF to be HLA-matched, suitable to transplant bone marrow to her brother who was suffering from thalassemia major.
Through a novel technique in Assisted Reproductive Therapy called PGT-M (Pre-Implantation Genetic Testing for Monogenic Disorder) with HLA (Human leukocyte antigen) matching, Baby Kavya was born and went on to save the older brother.
Mr. Sahdev Singh Solanki and Mrs. Alpa Solanki’s second born, Abhijeet, was diagnosed with Thalassemia Major and was dependent on a monthly blood transfusion. The Solankis were advised bone marrow transplant as the last resort to treat their child. However, the inability to find the required match for Human leukocyte Antigen (HLA) made the family helpless.
In desperation to save their young child, they consulted doctors across the country. Mr. Solanki himself did thorough research to find treatment options and came across the term “Savior Sibling”.
This gave him a ray of hope and he reached out to Dr. Manish Banker, Medical Director, Nova IVF Fertility, at his Ahmedabad Clinic for executing this novel clinical approach to save his son.
Dr. Banker, said, “Considering the unavailability of matched human leukocyte antigen (HLA) donors for the transplant in Abhijeet’s case, we decided to opt for IVF with HLA matching with Pre-Genetic Diagnosis and Screening test (PGD and PGS).”
“This process for HLA typing is an established method for conceiving a child who may donate cord blood or hematopoietic stem cells for transplantation to save a respective sibling with a critical illness. Bone marrow transplantation from an HLA-identical donor is the best therapeutic option for thalassemia major patients,” he added.
“Though we were aware of the science behind this, the father himself approached us on basis of his research on this, which is highly commendable. Considering this was the first-ever case in the history of Indian IVF, we took the challenge and created a healthy ‘Savior Sibling’ to save her elder brother,” said Dr Banker.
The doctors executed this first-ever treatment where the mother had 18 embryos biopsied, of which only one embryo was found to have matching HLA, normal on Preimplantation genetic testing for monogenic diseases (PGT M), and was thus transferred successfully in its very first cycle.
This resulted in a successful pregnancy, delivering a healthy baby girl who was found to be 10/10 HLA match with the sibling. In March 2020, having the perfect HLA match, a successful bone marrow transplant was done for the affected child at CIMS Hospital, and the elder brother is now healthy and risk-free.