Let your ‘mite’ flow to keep Bubble Baby alive

The Bubble Baby of Sri Lanka needs your support and good wishes once again. Now 15-month-old Sanjana Praveen Shivanka, who celebrated his first birthday a few months back, unfortunately has had to go back to the Apollo Speciality Hospital in Chennai, India, to have a repeat bone marrow transplantation. This is due to his first bone marrow transplant -- for the rare genetic disorder, Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) Syndrome -- beginning to fail.

This has sent the medical bills soaring and his desperate father, K.W.N. Neil Shantha, is running from pillar to post to mortgage their humble home in Dippitagala, Lellopitiya in Ratnapura.

Shivanka at Apollo’s Bone Marrow Transplant Unit

The Sunday Times has paid out in full the Rs. 5.3 million collected in the Bubble Baby's name through the overwhelming support of donors not only within Sri Lanka but abroad who adopted Shivanka as their own.

The monies were paid out on the request of the Human Genetics Unit (HGU) of the Colombo Medical Faculty to meet not only the bills at Apollo Hospital but also at Asiri Hospital where Shivanka had to be treated while in Sri Lanka for various infections, as is imminent in SCID Syndrome, and also for the immunoglobulins that he had to be administered regularly to ward off infections.

Father Neil and mother K.B.N. Damayanthi have also run through their savings as well as all that they could borrow from relatives and friends. Shivanka is in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Apollo, says Neil who along with Damayanthi was with him until October 7, after which he had to return to Sri Lanka to find the money to pay the Rs. 2.1 million that they owe the hospital.

For Baby Shivanka, the only hope was bone marrow transplantation and his parents got to know that this was the only option from the HGU which coordinated with Apollo Hospital to send him there. A few years before his birth, two of his siblings, who were not fortunate enough to be brought into the focus of generous Sri Lankans, succumbed to SCID and are buried in the backyard of their home, for bone marrow transplantation is not available in Sri Lanka.

When Shivanka was three months old he received stem cell therapy - stem cells harvested from his own father, Neil, rather than those from a non-related donor but as his immunity cells didn’t grow he has now undergone bone marrow transplantation. SCID is a rare disorder, the Sunday Times learns, and the best course of treatment for the Bubble Baby had to be well thought out. It had to be the one which carried the least danger to his life.

(SCID is a disorder in which the immune system's cells, especially T-cells are affected. This makes the person vulnerable to life-threatening infectious diseases spread by viruses, bacteria and fungi.)

Please send in your donations to help save the Bubble Baby for whom generous people have done so much. Let the contributions flow to Account 0007283471(Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.) at the Bank of Ceylon, Lake House Branch, D.R. Wijewardene Mawatha, Colombo 10.

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