Monday, April 23, 2012

Family looks for cancer funds

Family looks for cancer funds
- Nine-year-old boy advised stem cell transplant after relapse
Shrotrik Dasgupta, 9, can probably count the days he has been well and fit to go to school or play with friends in the last three years since he was diagnosed with blood cancer.
But Shrotrik kept his chin up through the painful treatment from January 2009 to December 2011 and even managed to secure 85 per cent marks in his Class III final examinations despite being irregular at school. Just when things had started looking up for Shrotrik and his family, residents of Dum Dum, the symptoms of his ailment returned and doctors diagnosed a relapse of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in late February this year.
“ALL is a form cancer, where the white blood cells turn malignant and overproduce in the bone marrow so that the normal cells get crowded out. These WBCs then spread to other organs,” said Revathy Raj, paediatric haematologist at Apollo Hospital, Chennai, who is treating the boy. “There was a 70 per cent chance that Shrotrik would be absolutely cured after the three years of treatment. But unfortunately he turned out to be among the 30 per cent who have a relapse.”
Doctors advised stem cell transplantation as the only cure but there was no match in the family. The search had to be taken abroad and three matched donors were finally located in the US, but this would send the cost of treatment spiralling.
The boy’s grandfather, Bhabotosh Bhattacharjee, has already spent Rs 16 lakh on his treatment with some contribution from his mother Sanchita, a teacher of Taki SL Girls’ High School, and father Saibal, an LIC agent. Drained of all resources, procuring another Rs 50 lakh is proving a Herculean task for the family.
Desperate, Sanchita joined Facebook last month and posted an appeal (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003698598310). The response has been encouraging — Rs 7 lakh has already been collected and Rs 3 lakh more has been promised. Of this, Rs 1 lakh came from St. Stephen’s School, Dum Dum, where Shrotrik studies.
“The chemotherapy is over (the final dose was administered on January 6) and now is the time for the stem cell transplant if we can afford it. Doctors are advising us against any delay but our hands are tied,” said the boy’s mother, who is with him in Chennai.
“The procedure is best done as early as possible as Shrotrik is once more in remission but the problem will resurface. There is an immediate need for Rs 50 lakh, including Rs 5 lakh for the stem cells and Rs 10 lakh for medication. There is also the possibility of life-threatening fungal infection and anti-fungal agents are expensive,” the doctor said.

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