Thai boy with Covid-19 saves sister's life as bone marrow donor

PHOTO: Facebook/Ramathibodi Foundation

Even though he had Covid-19, Sila "Jio" Boonklomjit, a five-year-old boy from Thailand, managed to save his sister's life with the stem cells he donated for her bone marrow transplant.

Contracted Covid-19 a day before procedure

Doctors only discovered Jio contracted the coronavirus the day before Jintanakan "Jean" Boonklomjit, his sister's urgent transplant.

Despite the challenges, which included quarantine restrictions placed on Jio on the eve of the transplant procedure, the treatment was carried out successfully.

And it was done so without Jio passing the coronavirus to Jean.

While the experimental procedure first began in April, the bone marrow was only successfully transplanted on June 23 at Ramathibodi Hospital.

PHOTO: Facebook/Ramathibodi Foundation

Jean's case was "believed to be the first successful stem cell transplant from a donor with active Covid-19", according to reports.

She was reported to be in a severe condition as she was born with thalassemia — a genetic blood disorder that limits the blood's ability to carry oxygen.

There were also difficulties finding a suitable donor for Jean, which left Jio as their "best hope", said Suradej Hongeng of the hospital's paediatrics department.

A difficult journey

It was a long and uncertain road to this happy outcome, according to the doctor.

Jio and Jean were confirmed to be a genetic match in 2018, and the hospital prepared for the transplantation procedure thereafter.

PHOTO: Facebook/Ramathibodi Foundation

But with any medical procedures, there were certain complications and hurdles involved.

According to Suradej, the siblings' young age were part of the difficulties faced during the procedure. Jean's chemotherapy procedure also caused her immune system to be compromised. That delayed the bone marrow transplant until this year.

Still, things turned out well in the end, and the five-year-old boy was applauded for saving his big sister's life.

"It's as if my daughter is reborn and gets a new life," said the children's father, Suchai Boonklomjit.

Jio has since recovered from Covid-19, which was believed to be transmitted from his mother, according to doctors.

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This article was first published in theAsianparent