Encouragement to Register as Stem Cell Donors

Sachin, a 22-year-old medical student from Kerala donated his blood stem cells to save a patient suffering from blood cancer and gave him the opportunity to undergo a lifesaving stem cell transplantation.

Sachin registered as a potential blood stem cell donor during a donor registration drive conducted at his college by DKMS BMST Foundation India, a non-profit organization dedicated the fight against blood cancer and blood disorders such as Thalassemia and Aplastic Anemia. At that time, he was
just 18-year-old and started his medical studies.

Sachin says, “As a medical student, I have studied about blood cancers, their etiology, symptoms, and complications in detail and that actually served as a source of inspiration to go ahead with the donation. And knowing that a stem cell donation is the only chance at survival for a blood cancer patient, as well as, how rare and difficult it is to get an HLA-matched donor, it felt like my duty to register as a blood stem cell donor.”

Showing exemplary compassion towards blood cancer patients, the youngster took the crucial step of blood stem cell donation. After 2 years of registering, he got a chance to save someone’s life.

Talking about his inspiring journey, Sachin says, “It was indeed a very happy moment for me when I came to know that I have been found a match for a patient. As a future health care provider, I was aware of the challenges faced by blood cancer and blood disorder patients and that did serve as a fuel to go forward. Blood stem cell donation might be complex on paper but in fact the process is simple, it is similar to blood platelet donation. My blood stem cells were taken through the Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Collection (PBSC) method. I was connected to a machine that drew blood out of one arm, filtered the stem cells, and returned the blood back into my other arm. The whole process took around 4 hours. I was so impressed with the support DKMS-BMST gave me. Even in such uncertain times they made the process as calm and smooth as possible.”

Patrick Paul, CEO, DKMS BMST Foundation India, “In India, we see almost one lakh new cases of blood cancer and blood disorders every year. Despite this huge burden, the number of Indians that are registered in stem cell registries are significantly lower than many other countries. A stem cell
transplant is likely to be successful only if the donor’s HLA type is a close match to that of the patient.

Only about 30% of the patients can find a sibling match and the rest 70% depend on finding a matching unrelated donor. There is a possibility of finding the perfect match from a donor of the same ethnicity. Unfortunately, patients of Indian ethnicity have a hard time finding a matching donor due to lack of potential donors in Indian registries. Hence, there is an urgent need for youngsters like Sachin to come forward and register as a potential donor.”

In his message to other young potential donors, Sachin, says, “All of us are humans, born in the same planet and I guess we all wish to help those who are in need, especially someone dealing with a life-threatening ailment. If you are healthy enough, consider it as an opportunity to help those who
aren’t. The main reason why people are not really coming forward to donate stem cells is because they are not properly informed and mostly because it does not really concern them until and unless their dear or near ones are also affected. The public must be made aware of how difficult it is to find a
possible matching donor for a patient and how easy it is to be a lifesaver now, with the advanced medical facilities available across the world.”

Registration process:
Interested citizens between 18-50 age-group can register at: dkms-bmst.org/register
All it takes is five minutes of your time and a simple 3 step process:
Step 1: Visit the site, fill up an online form and you will receive a DIY swab kit at home.
Step 2: Once you receive the swab kit, fill out the consent form and take a tissue sample from the inside of your cheeks with 3 cotton swabs provided in the kit.
Step 3: Send back your swab sample in the pre-paid envelope provided.

DKMS laboratory will then analyze your tissue type and your details will be available in the global search for blood stem cell donors. If you do come up as a suitable donor, DKMS-BMST will get in touch with you straight away. Your blood stem cells will be collected from the bloodstream via Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Collection process, which is similar to a blood platelet donation wherein only your stem cells are taken. This is a safe, non-surgical outpatient process.


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