Lachlanis is an 11 year old boy.
Lachlans condition is becoming clearer today after interim bone-marrow
results. He has hypocellular bone marrow with pancytopenia. This is known as
hypoplastic anaemia and until we have further tests and screening we will
not know the specifics or the degree of severity of his situation.
For those of you who prefer plain English, hypocellularbone marrow means
that the marrow is producing far too few blood cells. Pancytopenia means
that all of Lachlans blood counts are low platelets, haemoglobin and white
blood count. Hypoplastic anemia means that his bone marrow has not
completely shutdown but may be on the way to becoming aplastic (which is a
At this stage it appears that he has acquired this condition from exposure
to benzene in a head lice treatment that we have been using on and off since
August 2007. This shampoo is sold over the counter here in South Africa but
is banned in 52 countries around the world and severely restricted in 21
others. The chemical is gamma benzenehexachloride and the shampoos here in
South Africa that contain it are Gambex and Quellada, in most other
countries it goes by the brand Lindane or Kwell. In Australia, USA, UK,
Singapore, Hong Kong and EU countries you cannot use this product without a
prescription and it marked with a warning that the product should only be
used once, ever.
A note to parents, doctors, teachers, pharmacists anyone who may need to use
or recommend treatment for head lice – the products here in South Africa
contain no warnings, and in fact recommend repeated treatment if the head
lice are not completely cleared. A leaflet inside the box does note that
one of the possible side effects of using the product daily for 3 weeks
could be aplastic anaemia. However the WHO advises that anyone under 50kgs
is at risk of hypoplastic or aplastic anaemia and/or acute lymbastic
leukemia among other things, from just one 30ml exposure to the shampoo. The
risks compound if a person is hypersensitive to benzene, which appears to be
the case with Lachlan.
Please tell other parents about this. We are shocked, devastated and
appalled that a product that is known to cause this condition can be
marketed and sold in South Africa and other countries when there is so much
documented evidence regarding the damage it can cause, without clear
warnings or information on the packaging.
Y-I.T. (PTY) LTD
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