Faculty members help bring hope to Ottawa family with first-in-world treatment

Faculty of Medicine
Faculty of Medicine

By David McFadden

Research Writer, Faculty of Medicine

Doctor talking to child
Every now and again, there’s a truly remarkable example of how scientific breakthroughs by our broad research and clinical community can bring hope to a family and capture the hearts of people across the world.

A case study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine and featuring the contributions of two of our Faculty members has done just that.

The exceptional contributions of Drs. Karen Fung-Kee-Fung and Pranesh Chakraborty have helped physicians in an international collaboration successfully treat a fetus with an inherited and often fatal disease for the very first time. The emergence of this new medical treatment means that little Ayla Bashir, a 16-month-old from Ottawa, is thriving, giggling, and exploring even though she’s diagnosed with infantile-onset Pompe disease, the same devastating disorder that caused the deaths of two of her sisters.

Photo credit : CHEO Media House

“We feel very privileged and honored to be a part of this international collaboration to help make this first-in-the-world treatment a reality,” says Dr. Karen Fung-Kee-Fung, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine and the Bashir family’s maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the Ottawa Hospital.

Dr. Pranesh Chakraborty, a Faculty associate professor who is a pediatrician and metabolic geneticist at CHEO and co-lead of the case study, agreed. "This treatment is very promising, and I am so happy for Ayla and her family,” said Chakraborty, who is also a researcher at the CHEO Research Institute and has provided care to Ayla’s family for years.

In her father Zahid Bashir’s words: “We're quite aware that she's a miracle.”

Read more about this exceptional work that has been featured in such news outlets as The New York Times, The Associated Press, and The Ottawa Citizen.

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