A PIONEERING ‘reprogramming’ of a girl’s immune system has spared her from taking drugs lifelong to stop her body from rejecting a kidney transplant.
Aditi Shankar, 8, has become the first in the UK to undergo the surgery that ensured her body accepts a donor kidney as its own.
In 2021, she was diagnosed with Schimke immuno-osseous dysplasia, a rare condition that affects the immune system and kidneys and this forced her to undergo dialysis three times a week.
As her underlying immune condition did not allow a kidney transplant, doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital (Gosh) in London corrected her immune deficiency with mother Divya’s stem cells. With her immunity rebuilt with a bone marrow transplant in 2022, she underwent a kidney transplant in March this year and accepted her mother’s organ as “being part of her”.
Now she has not been taking immunosuppressants which patients would normally have to take after a kidney transplant to stop the organ from being rejected by the body. With her transplanted kidney working normally, she can now go back to school, swim, sing and dance without having to worry about medication.
“A month after the transplant, we were able to take her off all of her immunosuppression, which means she doesn’t get the side effects of the drugs,” Prof Stephen Marks, a children’s kidney specialist at Gosh told the Guardian.
“Here we are in the situation where she no longer needs dialysis, but she has an excellent immune system and an excellent kidney transplant, doing the function that her kidneys would have done if they hadn’t failed.”
Aditi, who likes science, said she got the kidney transplant when “I went to special sleep and closed my eyes.”
“Now I have got the line out, I can go swimming,” the girl from Greenford, north-west London, said.
Her father Uday recalled the days when the child would go through dialysis six to eight hours a day. “Then she would come home and still light the whole house up,” he said.