After doctors in Romania gave up and declared there was no chance to cure a local seven year old girl, her mother was advised to go to Israel to treat the rare genetic flaw, which prevented her daughter’s body from producing blood cells. The gamble paid off and saved her daughter’s life.
The mother of the ill child, only identified as B, lives with her family in a small Romanian village. After her second marriage she gave birth to a son who was ill with the same syndrome and died at age seven. After there was no longer a chance to save B’s life in Romania the family decided to send her to the bone marrow transport department in Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem.
For long months the girl slept in isolation, inside a bubble, in an attempt to prevent infection from viruses and germs that exist in the hospital. “Her condition worsened and we decided to undertake a bone marrow transplant,” said the department chief, Prof. Reuven Or. They found a donor, the transplant was performed, but sadly the girl’s condition continued to worsen…Another transplant of bone marrow also did not succeed, and the doctors were helpless.”
But at the last moment, Prof. Or remembered that he read about a revolutionary process developed by the Haifa-based Pluristem Therapeutics that succeeded in injecting stem cells taken from a placenta directly into the muscle.
“The problem was that they had not yet done experiments on people, and there were only reports of success on animals,” Prof. Or said. “As the girl’s body rejected all possible treatment, and there were no other possible treatments, we decided as a last step to turn to Pluristem, which ultimately saved her life.”
This week, B was released from the hospital and next week will return with her mother to the village in which they live in Romania. The one who is celebrating the success now is the process developer, Zami Aberman, father of three and grandfather to three.
“I am just a mechanical engineer who tends to think out of the scientific paradigm,” he said. “They laughed at me at the beginning – but just look, I was right after all.”