Does getting a match meen that my child can be transplanted immediately?

It is well established that patients with low iron overload and limited organ damage get better outcomes on being transplanted. Once there is a match, we do a detailed pre-transplantation evaluation to assess both the patient and the donor. Fortunately, today it is possible to control both high iron levels and reverse organ damage using appropriate medication. Based upon your child’s condition the physicians will initiate the process of preparing the child for the transplantation – a process known as down-staging using aggressive iron chelation and hydroxyurea therapy.
Children who are well managed may only need minor course correction and preparation which could happen in a few weeks. For the others, depending upon the extent of existing damage to the body, the child may take anywhere between 3 months to a year to be able to reverse as much damage as is possible. A child is eventually offered the transplantation when the medical team is convinced that enough has been done to prepare the child for superior outcome.
It may be possible that some children do not respond to the down-staging process adequately. For such families, the physicians will reevaluate the risk-benefits of transplantation and share the same with the families, enabling them to make informed decision.

These answers have been prepared by:
- Dr. Lawrence Faulkner, Cure2Children medical team coordinator
- Dr. Sadaf Khalid, Cure2Children Pakistan branch coordinator