An eight-year-old Indian-origin girl was on Friday declared the first person in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) history to have a transplant without the need for lifelong drugs after medics reprogrammed her immune system. Aditi Shankar, suffering from a rare genetic condition, received a stem cell transplant using bone marrow taken from her mother, Divya, who also donated her kidney.
The pioneering treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London means that Aditi’s new kidney works without the continued need of immunosuppressant drugs to stop her body from rejecting it.
“This is the first time I have cared for someone in 25 years who has not required immunosuppression after kidney transplantation,” said Professor Stephen Marks, Clinical Lead for Renal Transplantation at GOSH and Professor of Paediatric Nephrology and Transplantation at University College London Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health.
“We hope that our research will provide the option for more children, like Aditi, for whom kidney transplant was not previously an option, to have the opportunity to have a life-changing kidney transplant,” he said.
According to the medics, this became possible because Aditi had an immune condition for which she received her mother’s bone marrow six months before receiving a kidney transplant for severe irreversible kidney failure.
This reprogrammed her immune system to be the same as her donor kidney, so her transplanted organ would not attack Aditi’s body.
“The past three years Aditi’s energy had been lost to dialysis. After her kidney transplant, almost instantly, we saw a big change in her energy levels. We take our organs for granted, but we all have such a gift in us,” said Uday Shankar, Aditi’s father.
“The past three years she has been restricted with a Hickman line [a tube which delivers treatments and takes blood samples directly from a vein] and all she wanted to do was for her line to go away so she could go and splash in the water. She is now starting swimming lessons,” he shared.