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Siblings’ stem cell donation saves brother’s life


An Armenian woman has helped save the life of her brother in Australia by donating stem cells to the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

Karine Tshgnavoryan, who lives in Armenia, had not previously been aware that she held the key to helping her brother. It was only when the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry started to look for a stem cell donor match within Armenia that she became involved.

Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry Medical Director Dr Mihran Nazaretyan explained: “In this case, since the patient in Australia is of Armenian descent, the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry at once contacted us, requesting that we try to find a local donor match.” When stem cell treatment is undertaken, the cells should be a perfect match. This way, the patient can avoid a lifetime of anti-rejection drugs.

Karine was identified as being a link, and Dr Nazaretyan immediately contacted colleagues in Australia, who then travelled to collect stem cells from her. The only non-invasive and pain-free method is for the cells to be removed from naturally shed teeth. Stem cells should also be ideally removed from baby teeth, in order to avoid deterioration due to age or pollutants.

The four-hour procedure was performed on 9th February at the Stem Cell Harvesting Center in Yerevan.

Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry Executive Director Dr Sevak Avagyan said: “Our registry is linked with 67 national registries across the globe, which means that once a matched donor is identified, the process of shipping out the harvested stem cells for the patient suffering from a life-threatening blood-related illness is performed with absolutely no delay.”

The Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry has been able to recruit more than 28,000 donors across four continents, which has resulted in 25 bone marrow transplants.