Z suffered from Osteopetrosis (unlike osteoporosis), in which the bones become overly dense and cause damage to nerves and tissues. The list of diseases and deficiencies that may occur is very long, and includes death. Z's doctors were able to diagnose his condition only two years after they first saw him. By then, his feet had started to bend, his sight was impaired and he could hardly walk. Although they were told that there was nothing to do, Z's parents searched the internet and found out that a Bone Marrow Transplantation was an optional treatment.
At first they looked around within the Ukraine and in neighboring Russia, and then decided to look in other countries also. Hospitals in Italy refused to receive them. Treatment in Germany was too expensive, although a national fund raising campaign was conducted for them by the national Ukraine TV network.
Z underwent his bone marrow transplantation at Hadassah some 10 weeks ago. It was very successful, and he will stay with his family in Israel for another ten months so that Hadassah doctors can monitor his recovery process. "Until now we had to hold him in our hands all the time", says Lena, Zrichko's mother. "He could not go to kindergarten because his immune system was too weak. His contacts with children were limited to family relatives. We were afraid that he would be infected."
Now Z can go for a walk with his parents, and start rehabilitation treatment in ALYN pediatric rehabilitation hospital. He also wears new glasses to improve his sight.
"We transfused Z's entire blood with that of his donor, and did the same thing with his immune system", says Dr. Paulina Stefansky, a senior physician in the department of pediatric oncology hematology department, in charge of pediatric transplantations. "He receives medications, and arrives at the hospital for monitoring once a week. We insisted that he stayed in Israel at least a year, so that he can recover and until his immune system becomes stronger. The costs are still less expensive than any other country in Europe, and he also receives rehabilitation treatment", adds Dr. Stefansky. Without treatment, Z could not survive. Now he will still have bone related problems (his teeth for instance) but these can be dealt with and he will grow up like a normal boy.
Hadassah doctors gain most of their experience with children younger than two years old, who are born out of consanguinity. Z is the oldest child who underwent this transplantation at Hadassah. He comes from a normal family and unfortunately for him each one of his parents is a carrier of a different mutation. His mother's mutated gene was identified, and when she will be pregnant again, she will be able to know if her fetus also carries a mutated gene.