bone marrow transplant needles
Pakistani boy is the youngest bone marrow donor in India Pictured: Bone marrow transplant needlesFlickr

An eight-month old Pakistani boy Rayan became the youngest bone marrow donor in India when he donated bone marrow stem cells for his sister, Zeenia, who was suffering from Hemaphagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). The girl also suffers from partial albinism. 

In HLH, the bone marrow produces abnormal cells that eat away normal cells. It can cause high fever, low blood counts, liver and spleen enlargement. Zeenia, who is only two-and-a-half years old, underwent the bone marrow transplant surgery in Bengaluru. 

"After we diagnosed the girl was suffering from HLH, we discovered that her brother was Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) match for her," said Dr Sunil Bhat, Senior Consultant and Head of Paediatric Haematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant at Narayana Health City hospital.

The only cure for the disease is bone marrow transplant, doctors told the Hindustan Times. The disease is also more likely in cases of parental consanguinity, where the parents are related to each other. 

"As the donor is just eight months old to collect the adequate dosage, he was required to undergo the donation process twice in a gap of only few weeks," Dr Bhat said.

"By using small marrow extraction needles and with the assistance of a team of anaesthetists and other members, we have successfully extracted enough marrow which helped cure Zeenia. Rayan has not only saved his sister, he also has the unique distinction of being the youngest marrow donor in India," he added.

Rayan was doing "exceptionally" well, the doctors said. Zeenia has been cured and is ready to leave for Pakistan. She will need to go for follow-ups there. 

"From the time we landed, following immigration, I would say it was a very pleasant surprise ... everyone was very fine and friendly," Zeenia's father said. Her mother, Farzeen said it was difficult to decide to go through the bone marrow donation from her infant son. She said they decided to take the risk when it was found they were matching siblings.