Hope for Aaditya
Miracle Boy Receives Historic Intracranial Stem Cell Transplant
A 7 Year Old Boy’s Fight against Niemann-Pick Type C Disease
In 2007, Aaditya Ravi Dasgupta’s family received devastating news. The kind of news no family ever wants to hear. They learned that their 6 year old son, Aaditya, was diagnosed with a very rare and fatal disease called Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) that afflicts approximately 500 children, teens or adults worldwide.
Niemann Pick Type C is a genetic lipid storage disease, in which harmful amounts of a fatty substances and cholesterol (called lipids) accumulate in the spleen, liver, lungs, bone marrow, and brain. As a result, NPC causes progressive neurological deterioration with symptoms including dementia, seizures, and cataplexy (uncontrollable falling from laughter that can result in serious injury).
Aaditya is in a major battle for his life as walking, talking, eating, and even remembering how to say “Ma” or “Papa” has become almost impossible.
Aaditya’s Life a Year Ago
Last year at this time, Aaditya’s day began with a sleepy smile on his cute little face and his endearing voice calling out for “Mom.” One of his favorite pastimes was watching television and flipping the channels to find shows such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Barney, Dora and Go Diego Go. Mom received lot of hugs and kisses as Sumati Aunty, family friend and housekeeper, gave Aaditya his Ayurvedic medicine with honey while they prayed together. Aaditya enjoyed going to school with Sumati Aunty right by his side to make sure his sense of humor and laughter did not cause him to lose complete muscle power, crumble to the floor and severely injure himself. A physical therapist came to the house every night at 8:00pm and helped Aaditya with rigorous exercise. Aaditya always went to Mom for hugs, kisses and silent reassurances that no matter how hard the exercises, That God would make a way with every step.
Aaditya’s Life Before Surgery
Aaditya is no longer able to say “Ma” or “Papa,” however he still gives everyone his sweet smiles. His little fingers can’t change the channels on the remote anymore, nor is he able to move his mouth to give his Mom kisses – now just a simple touch of his lips to her cheeks and a stroke of his hand to her face make her smile. Aaditya is no longer able to walk or go to school but he enjoys Sumati Aunty’s company during the day when everyone is out of the house. His sense of humor remains intact and alive and he seems to understand jokes even grown-ups would have a hard time understanding. He also loves music and listening to his older sister play guitar or the family favorite Beatles CD.
Cutting Edge Stem Cell Treatment
Even at a young age, Aaditya has been very close to God. He folds his tiny hands and prays before every meal, also at bedtime. It’s hard to understand why God has endowed him with an affliction that has no cure. Maybe God tests those who are closest to him? We believe that He wants us to join hands together and find a cure for NPC afflicted children around the world.
In a quest to find a cure for Aaditya, the family has been meeting with numerous doctors throughout India and the US. Their search began with Dr Marc Patterson, Pediatric Neurologist who is now at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota to Dr. Srinivasan from Jeevan Stem Cell Bank in Chennai who introduced the family to Dr. S Suresh, a renowned ultrasonologist and Director of Mediscan Systems. From there, they met with Dr. Sujatha, a genecist at Mediscan, a centre that specialized in prenatal screening and testing. Dr. Sujatha has taken on the tasks of treating rare diseases in fetal stages and hopes one day to be able to cure rare genetic disease like NPC during infancy. Today, Dr. Suresh and Dr. Sujatha have established a free diagnostic clinic for Niemann-Pick Type A and Niemann-Pick Type B diseases and with the help of the Hope for Aaditya and the family they will be able to open a free diagnostic clinic for Niemann-Pick type C, the first such center in India.
The family had been dreaming of an intracranial stem cell transplant for Aaditya with mysenchymal stem cells. There is research going on in the world of science but Aaditya received a cutting edge treatment right here in India in which a stereotactic implantation of stem cells was performed on his brain. The hope is these cells will graft into new brain neurons and restore function for Aaditya and save his life. Dr Venkatramana, a renowned Neurosurgeon at BGS Global teamed together with Dr Vijay Sharma of the Stempeutics department at Manipal Hospital to conduct this procedure after appropriate approvals from the Indian Government and the Ethics committee at BGS Global.
Intracranial stem cells transplants treatment that Aaditya received is not even available in the United States. Stem cells were put directly through his skull, into his brain and past the blood brain barrier. Most stem cells injections people get in China or Mexico go through the neck/vertebra or through IV infusions.
In 2005, a similar procedure made international headlines when the FDA approved six children with Batten disease to receive intracranial neural stem cells in the United States. The results from this procedure still have not been released by StemCells Inc. of Palo Alto, California.
Unlike the children with Batten disease, Aaditya received a different type of stem cell - mesenchymal stem cells derived from human bone marrow (not embryos). The good news is that all stem cells are not alike so the hope is that these stem cells will transdifferentiate and turn into brain neurons. While this procedure is considered a long shot and radical, there is a glimmer of hope that mesenchymal stem cells could restore function to Aaditya and save his life.
Some of the hair on Aaditya’s head was removed and the mesenchymal stem cells were injected with a special 3 prong needle into eight areas of his brain through two, three inch cuts. His amazing mother Tasneem says they are at peace and that, "He who has brought Aaditya so low will take him high." This family’s faith is inspiring to say the least and they are asking the world to send them prayers for a successful recovery and wish everyone “A Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!
Finding a treatment for Niemann Pick Type C will provide hope not only to Aaditya Ravi Dasgupta and Tasneem Tankiwala in India but to many others like Addi and Cassi Hempel, Gabrielle Laverde and Peyton and Kayla Hadley in US, Husein Taher in Tanzania, South Africa, Roy Green in UK and so many more kids, teens and adults all over the world and in India that have not been diagnosed yet due to the cost and complexity of the diagnostic process. You can leave a wish for Aaditya (http://addiandcassi.com/guestbook) or for more information go to: www.HopeforAaditya.org or contact Tasneem Dasgupta (Aaditya’s Mom) at email@example.com Cell number 9845298915 or Duriya (Aaditya’s Aunt) at firstname.lastname@example.org