Surgery breakthrough for leukaemia children

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The Independent Online
BONE MARROW from unrelated and 'mismatched' donors can be used just as successfully as perfectly matched tissue to treat leukaemia in children, doctors in Bristol have discovered, writes Celia Hall.

Dr Jackie Cornish, transplant co-ordinator at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Sick Children, said yesterday that their findings were based on results from 100 young leukaemia patients. Half were good matches and half 'mismatches'.

'It is an exciting advance and means that we are able to offer more bone marrow transplants,' she said. 'We look first for good matches from related donors, but only one in three or four siblings are full tissue matches. We have worked out a system for using intelligent mismatches.'

The Bristol hospital is the premier UK unit for paediatric bone- marrow transplants and began work with mismatched donors seven years ago. 'We are now able to publish our results,' Dr Cornish said.

'It also means that it is rare for us to turn down any child through lack of a donor.'

Previously, doctors have concentrated on seeking fully matched tissue if other treatments have failed and the child lacks a suitable family donor.

The Bristol hospital is now handling more than 100 transplants a year, including some adults.