AIIMS Delhi performs India's first successful foetal blood transfusion to save child with rare disorder

AIIMS Delhi performs India's first successful foetal blood transfusion to save child with rare disorder

New Delhi | A woman who previously suffered seven failed pregnancies has recently delivered a healthy child with the help of doctors at AIIMS Delhi after they successfully treated her foetus suffering from a rare blood disorder through the transfusion of O D phenotype red cell units brought all the way from Japan.

This medical achievement marks the first procedure of its kind in India and only the eighth case reported globally, according to the doctors of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

The patient, hailing from Haryana,had previously endured seven unsuccessful pregnancies. In her eighth pregnancy, after receiving six foetal blood transfusions, she gave birth to a healthy baby, the hospital said in a statement.

Both mother and newborn have since been discharged in good health, the doctors said.

The incompatibility between the red blood cells of the mother and the baby can lead to severe complications for the unborn child such as anaemia, jaundice, heart failure, and even fetal death, explained Dr Neena Malhotra, head of obstetrics and gynaecology department at AIIMS, Delhi.

The most common known incompatibility is due to the RhD antigen and in severe cases of fetal anaemia, RhD blood is transfused to the foetus inside the mother's womb through the umbilical cord, the doctor said.

"However, in this case, the mother was negative for the Rh 17 antigen which is very rare to find. Due to this, the foetuses in her womb would suffer from incompatibility and develop anaemia, resulting in seven pregnancy losses," Dr Malhotra said.

When she came to AIIMS-Delhi during her seventh pregnancy, she had already lost her child inside her womb but the Blood Bank team led by Dr Hem Chandra Pandey had identified her rare blood group, the gynaecologist said.

"In her eighth pregnancy, she came to us at the fifth month of pregnancy, when it was found that the baby was already anaemic and required blood to be given urgently. Although the blood group had been identified, the blood was not available in India," she added.

A team of the obstetrics and gynaecology department coordinated with Dr Pandey and contacted the Japanese Red Cross, which confirmed the availability of the required blood.

Funds for the transfer and necessary permits were quickly arranged with the help of AIIMS's social service department and various NGOs, securing the needed funds within 48 hours. The rapid administrative clearances were taken and the blood was imported from Japan.

Following the import, the foetus received six intrauterine blood transfusions, successfully reversing the condition of hydrops (heart failure).

The pregnancy continued for eight months after which the baby was delivered by a caesarean section.

"This is the first case of a successful pregnancy outcome in a case of alloimmunization due to Rh 17 Ag in India and 8th case in the world. This case stands out in many respects," the AIIMS said.

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