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Launching HSCT for Multiple Sclerosis at BLK Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi
It has been close to six years since I had a rebirth, when my body was literally rebooted. Six years since I shrugged off the debilitating clutches of a rare and incurable autoimmune disorder. Today, I am glad to say that I have managed to facilitate the process that might bring in a cure for hundreds of Multiple Sclerosis patients in India who have lost hope; and hopefully, eventually to bringing an effective treatment to patients suffering from other autoimmune disorders such as CIDP, Lupus, Systemic Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis etc.
You might have already read my blog post on how I was derailed by a crippling autoimmune disorder, CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy) at the height of my extremely successful career. It was a clinical trial conducted by Dr Richard Burt, head of immunology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago that gave me my life back. The treatment involved a Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT) to regenerate the immune system after destroying it using Chemo, Rituximab, ATG etc. It gave me a new lease of life. My body finally stopped attacking itself.
It also helped me reinvent my life as a bestselling author, motivational speaker, startup co-founder and science editor. Most importantly, I discovered that when one goes through extraordinary difficulties in life, one becomes very compassionate. I became obsessed with helping others – especially people suffering from physical or mental challenges or children or youth who require counselling or motivation. I started seeking out people whom I can support. Today I am the India liaison for the GBS/CIDP foundation and every week, I come across two to three people who need support. I help them to the best of my abilities. But my overriding dream was to be able to convince some hospital in India to adopt Dr Burt’s HSCT treatment in India, so that it can be accessible to thousands of patients. For the last five years, I have been reaching out to various hospitals in the country to adopt this treatment. Unfortunately, time and again, I came up against blank walls. Not one to be easily discouraged, I continued my search. I would talk about my dream during my motivational talks in corporates, hoping that someone in the audience would have some hospital contacts. Finally, when I was addressing a global leadership team of Dr Reddy’s Laboratory, I hit gold. Rebu Ninan, one of the employees, promised to use his contacts to connect me to various hospitals. He was true to his words and within a few months, connected me to Dr Dharma Chaudhary, the head of Haematology at BLK Super Speciality Hospital in Delhi. I was delighted to find out that Dr Dharma was keen on rolling out the treatment for MS. He also wanted to do it the best way possible. He was happy to take the support of Dr Burt to ensure that his time tested protocol and the experience Dr Burt had garnered treating hundreds of patients was utilised for launching the treatment in India.
Yesterday, after months of email and telephonic discussions half way across the globe, we had the pleasure of having Dr Richard Burt in Delhi, addressing some of the top neurologists, haematologists and other doctors in Delhi. The treatment is now officially on for MS. Dr Burt’s data indicates that the treatment reverses the condition in over 80% of RRMS patients. This will bring succour to hundreds of patients who have otherwise lost hope. I also hope this creates a domino effect where many more hospitals adopt the treatment. After that, it will only be a matter of time before these hospitals start similar treatments for Lupus, CIDP, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Sclerosis, Scleroderma etc. I have helped set in motion a tide of hope that will spread wings as time goes.
Those interested in understanding more on the treatment can contact me on my mail ID firstname.lastname@example.org. Please share this post so that it reaches as many people as possible. For a more detailed description of my disorder and the treatment and how I managed to reinvent my life, please read my book From Ouch to Oops