Bengaluru, February 4th 2020: This World Cancer Day, Bangalore witnessed a heart-warming moment where a Thalassemia survivor met her lifesaver for the first time. The meeting was organized by the non-profit organisation DKMS BMST Foundation India, an international blood stem cell donor registry.
, a four-year-old girl from West Bengal travelled in an airplane for the first time and came over to Bangalore to meet her lifesaver Debojyoti, a 26-year-old techie who donated his blood stem cells so that she could receive a second chance at life. Expressing his emotions this World Cancer Day, Debojyoti said, “I registered myself as a potential stem cell donor in the year 2016 and after a year of registration I was found to be a match. I did not know the details of the patient to whom my blood stem cells will be given but now when I met her after all these years, I went numb. Being able to save a life is a feeling beyond words. It can only be experienced-can’t be described. I am glad that organizations like DKMS-BMST are working hard to provide patients suffering from blood cancer or other blood disorders with a second chance at life and I am proud to be a part of this noble cause.”
When this family residing in Kolkata found that their daughter was suffering from Thalassemia, they researched about the treatments available. Sharing about their experience Shia’s father Saifulla said “Due to lack of awareness about the blood stem cell transplant procedure we were turned down by the local doctors. We were told that our daughter will need blood transfusion throughout her life to survive, we were devastated but kept doing our research. We got a ray of hope after meeting Dr Revathi Raj and she assured us that there is a treatment available in the form of a blood stem cell transplant.” That’s when the journey to find an unrelated blood stem cell match began for the family. With the help of doctors, they were lucky to find a match for their daughter within a year and she underwent a blood stem cell transplantation.
Marking the World Cancer Day, Dr Latha Jagannathan, Director, DKMS-BMST said, “World Cancer Day is observed every year on 4th Feb to raise awareness about different types of cancer and to encourage its prevention. Many patients suffering from blood cancer and other blood disorders need a blood stem cell transplant to survive. Unfortunately, the majority of patients are unable to receive a transplant due to the unavailability of a matching blood stem cell donor. The registry DKMS-BMST at present has over 40,000 registered potential blood stem cell donors. We will work hard that this number will increase considerably over the coming years.”
“Every 5 minutes someone in India is diagnosed with blood cancer and other blood disorders. And many are not able to find a match within their families and hence need an unrelated donor. This gap can be bridged only when more and more people from different ethnicities in India are a part of the donor registry maintained by organisations such as DKMS-BMST. Every year, about 70-000 donor searches are initiated worldwide for an unrelated matching donor. Mainly due to the lack of a matching donor, India has one of the highest ratios of searches that do not result in transplantation, said Dr. Pooja Prakash Mallya, Paediatric Hematologist, Oncologist and BMT specialist, Narayana Health City, Bengaluru.
Speaking on the cause and urging people to register as a potential blood stem cell donor, Mr. Patrick Paul, CEO, DKMS BMST Foundation India says,” Mostly, for Blood cancer patients a blood stem cell transplant is key for survival. Each one of us should register as a potential stem cell donor and encourage our near and dear ones to register themselves too. We are happy to launch our online registration portal, www.dkms-bmst.org/register, which will enable people across India to understand blood stem cell donation better and register themselves by just giving a buccal swab sample.”
As per protocols, the identity of both-the donor and recipient are kept anonymous for a period of two years and thereafter upon interest they can be introduced to each other. “Ever since I donated my blood stem cells, I was looking forward to meeting the recipient. I only knew her age and today I am glad that I could see her and meet her family,” added Debojyoti,
Today, Shia is leading a normal life and is a hale and hearty girl who likes to draw and colour and is probably not even completely aware of the condition she was in. All she knows is Debojyoti is a friend who gifted her something that she will cherish forever. She has started her school and does not shy away from making more and more friends.