x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

'Bubble boy' Jaisen to have transplant in India

A boy with a life-threatening immune system disease is undergoing preparations in India for a bone-marrow transplant that could save his life.

Two-year-old Jaisen Arul Selvan awaits a bone marrow transplant.
Two-year-old Jaisen Arul Selvan awaits a bone marrow transplant.

DUBAI // Jaisen Arul Selvan's mother is the only person allowed to visit him in an isolated hospital ward.

Before she can see her two-year-old son, however, she must put on special masks, gloves and footwear.

Jaisen needs a bone marrow transplant to survive a rare genetic condition that has compromised his immune system, leaving him in a sterile room in an Indian private hospital. Preparations for the transplant are underway.

"He keeps pulling off my mask to see my entire face. It is quite painful for him," said his mother, Prasinna Rajaseelan. Doctors decided to place the boy into a sterile environment after they learnt that his four-year-old sister, Janice, is a perfect match for the bone-marrow transplant.

He was diagnosed three months ago with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, a life-threatening disease that is also known as the bubble baby syndrome after the American boy David Vetter, who lived in a plastic, germ-free bubble.

Jaisen was admitted to the bone marrow transplant ward on Saturday evening, his mother said.

The family opted for the procedure in India, instead of a British hospital, where the treatment costs would have been much higher.

Family and colleagues have chipped in to raise money for the procedure, which is estimated to cost about Rs 40 lakhs (Dh329,000).

The Rajaseelans decided to have the transplant done in India after Jaisen's condition turned "critical" in the past few days.

Doctors plan to give him chemotherapy to destroy cells affected by an infection.

After that, stem cells from his sister will be injected.

Jaisen's transplant will be scheduled for a week after his infection is gone.

The disease affects about one person in a 100,000.

pkannan@thenational.ae