Survivor tales

Jun 22, 2012, 07:13 IST | The Guide Team

A successful stem cell transplant on Dhulia-resident Rajiv Gandhi by Apollo Hospital, Ahmedabad's Dr Chirag Shah has ensured a healthy, happy and stress-free life

“I didn’t think I would be cured of bone marrow cancer,” recalls 51-year-old businessman Rajiv Gandhi. This self-confessed fan of the Gandhi family who has named his children Rahul and Priya, respectively is living a cancer-free life in Dhulia. Gandhi had no history of cancer in family. He says, “Since my haemoglobin count was low, we went to Pune for a few tests.

On November 18 2008, the doctors told me that I have bone marrow cancer. Medicines were prescribed and I was beginning to get better. I had stopped medicines for a year.”  Gandhi’s condition took a turn for the worse a year later. After undergoing chemotherapy sessions elsewhere that benefited Gandhi temporarily, he continued to feel weakness. He also experienced side-effects like hair loss. Besides treatment at a civic care centre, Gandhi tells us, is not the same as in a private care.

“On word from my brothers-in-law, who are doctors at Ahmedabad’s Apollo Hospital, we decided to meet Dr Chirag Shah. It was the best decision,” says Gandhi. The family accepted it and thought it better to stay on in Ahmedabad to avail treatment at Apollo Hospital’s world-class facility. Gandhi was not tolerating treatment so he went for transplant which has better long-term results, and there would be no long-term need to consume medicinal drugs, in most cases.

A Stem Cell transplant procedure by Dr Chirag Shah was done to treat his condition on May 1, 2011. Post treatment required round-the-clock observation, which was done with immense care at Apollo Hospital under Dr Shah’s constant monitoring. In time, his WBC and RBC levels came back to normal. Interestingly, in this procedure, there is no operation on the body. The patient was in his room through the procedure, and was never taken to operation room. This procedure involves transplantation of special cells, hence an operation on the body is never done — he was told.

He was feeling healthy and was discharged from hospital on May 19, 2011. His treatment cost only about Rs 5 lakh. His family was satisfied with the positive outcome of the operation and his steady progress, health-wise. Today, Gandhi is an actively engaged businessman who lives life in Dhulia with the same vigour as he did, earlier, carrying on with his daily routine and working between seven to 10 hours.

Today, he takes calcium tablets (Shelcal) and visits Dr Chirag Shah every three months for a series of precautionary check-ups and tests. Every month, he also receives a call from the hospital to check on his progress and health. “I feel great and there is no treatment to undergo, any more. Dr Shah’s care and concern for every patient ensured I was up and running in no time.”

His experience at Apollo Hospital ensured that state-of-the-art care reached the common man, and gave patients like Gandhi a new lease of life — “I was given a second life. Separate Stem cell Unit with HEPA Filter facility at Apollo Hospital ensured I could avail of the most advanced treatment. My family and I were confident that my health and future was in the hands of Dr Chirag Shah. He and the trained and dedicated nursing staff kept me in great condition and specialised care during my time there. I am grateful to have opted for treatment here.” 

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