Hyderabad: In honor of International Women’s Day, DKMS BMST Foundation India, a non-profit organization dedicated to the fight against blood cancer and blood disorders, is calling on young women to register as potential stem cell donors. Stem cell donation from a healthy donor can help patients undergo a lifesaving stem cell transplantation.
Deepika registered as a potential blood stem cell donor in August 2018 during one of the donor registrations drives at her workplace in order to help a person struggling with a life-threatening disease like Blood Cancer. Within just a year of registration she got a call of being a perfect match for a patient in need of a blood stem cell donor. On February 14th 2020, she donated her blood stem cells and gave someone a second chance at life.
In India, the burden of life-threatening blood disorders is huge with an incidence of over 1 lakh new cases being diagnosed every year. However, blood cancer and blood disorders such as Thalassemia and Aplastic Anemia can be treated by a stem cell transplant. But, due to the lack of awareness about stem cell donation in India, it becomes difficult for patients to find matching donors. This is where DKMS-BMST comes into play, by registering more potential donors from India.
Just like Deepika, 23-year-old pharmacology professional Dr Smita’s stem cell donation saved the life of a blood cancer patient in September 2021. Smita registered online with DKMS BMST Foundation India in January 2021 and within 9 months, she came as a match for a patient in need.
“Being a donor is a life-changing experience. When I came to know that I was a potential match for someone, I knew I had to do everything in my power to help,” says Smita. “My family and friends were my biggest support system and they encouraged me throughout the process. I urge every young woman out there to take a step forward and register as a potential donor. You can save a life, and there is no better feeling than that.”
Another donor, 24-year-old Basudha, registered as a blood stem cell donor in honor of her father who lost his life to lung cancer. One year after registering, she was informed that she was a suitable match for a blood cancer patient. She donated her blood stem cells through the Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Collection (PBSC) process. Reflecting on her experience, Basudha said, “It was a great feeling knowing I had done something that could potentially save a life. You never know if you or a loved one will be in the same situation someday, so always lend a helping hand when it’s possible.”
“We are proud to celebrate International Women’s Day by highlighting the contribution of all the young women who have come forward to register as potential blood stem cell donors,” says Patrick Paul, CEO, DKMS BMST Foundation India. “These young women are role models for the entire nation, and their selfless act is an inspiration for others to follow. By registering as a donor, you are giving hope to patients and their families who are going through the hardest time of their lives. We encourage young women to take this step towards becoming a potential stem cell donor and join us in the fight against blood cancer.”
“Stem cell donation is a crucial treatment option for patients with blood cancer and other blood disorders,” says Dr. Nitin Agarwal, HOD, Donor Request Management, DKMS-BMST. “Patients with blood cancer require healthy stem cells to replace the damaged cells in their bone marrow. Without a matching donor, these patients may not survive. It is important to remember that stem cell donation is a safe process and can save a life. By registering as a donor, young women can raise hope for patients waiting for a matching donor.”
DKMS BMST Foundation India is working to support blood cancer and blood disorder patients by registering potential donors, raising awareness, and facilitating stem cell donations. So far, the foundation has registered over 80000 potential donors out of which over 20,000 are females and has facilitated 81 stem cell donations in India, since its inception in 2019.
To become a stem cell donor, individuals need to be between the ages of 18 and 55 and in general good health. The registration process is simple, it involves filling out a form and providing a cheek swab sample. Only when a person is found to be a match for a patient, the actual donation process is done, in a safe and similar manner as a blood platelet donation.