JULY 26, 2023: A heartwarming tale of hope and kindness unfolded when a 29-year-old man from Kerala stepped forward to save the life of a complete stranger. Atanu Kishor, a resilient 22-year-old youth from Bangladesh, has been locked in an unwavering battle with blood cancer since 2017. His teenage years were full of immense difficulty as he endured countless rounds of chemotherapy, each moment leading to uncertainty.
Atanu was initially getting treated in Bangladesh; however, his family was searching for better treatment options. The local doctors advised them to seek medical care in India. With determination and faith, Atanu and his family arrived at the Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata, where he got a ray of hope that he could be treated. He underwent a stem cell transplantation under the expert supervision of Dr. Reghu K S, a senior consultant in the Department of Paediatric Hematology Oncology & Cellular Therapies.
Atanu Kishor underwent a lifesaving stem cell transplantation in Kolkata. He received stem cells from an unrelated donor and his namesake, Kishor, from India. DKMS BMST Foundation India, a non-profit organization dedicated to the fight against blood cancer, was pivotal in finding a matching stem cell donor for Atanu from their vast registry of over 90,000 potential donors in India. Kishor registered as a potential blood stem cell donor in 2017, and after a year, he came as a life-saving match for Atanu Kishor in Bangladesh.
Atanu successfully underwent stem cell transplantation in 2018 at the Tata Medical Centre. Adhering to the international guidelines that keep the donor and recipient’s identity anonymous for two years, Atanu got a chance to meet his lifesaver Kishor for the first time in February 2021 in Kolkata.
Donor Kishor said, ‘’In 2017, I registered as a potential stem cell donor, and after a year, I received the news that I was a match. At the time, I didn’t know any details about the patient. But now, after all these years, I finally met him. The meeting left me speechless. Saving a life is an indescribable feeling that can only be experienced. I am grateful that organizations like DKMS-BMST are tirelessly working to offer patients suffering from blood cancer and other blood disorders a second chance at life. Being part of this noble cause fills me with pride.”
A year has passed since their life-changing encounter, and Kishor and Kishor remain connected. They share common interests, such as sports, particularly cricket, and they both like reading books. Their connection has grown stronger, and they cherish the profound effect on each other’s lives. They both share a deep passion for encouraging more people to register as stem cell donors, recognizing the life-saving impact it can have on patients like Atanu Kishor.
Recipient, Atanu Kishor, said, “Finding my genetic twin through stem cell donation created an everlasting friendship. We share a special bond that goes beyond ordinary friendships, knowing he selflessly donated his stem cells to save my life. Thanks to DKMS-BMST for giving me a second chance at both friendship and life.”
Patrick Paul, CEO, DKMS BMST Foundation India, emphasized the urgent need to address the shortage of blood stem cell donors. He encouraged the youth to register as potential donors, stating, ‘’On this Friendship Day, we celebrate the true essence of friendship that goes beyond borders and transcends time. Witnessing the heartwarming bond between stem cell donors and recipients fills our hearts with joy. At DKMS-BMST, we are humbled to witness the life-changing power of friendship through stem cell donation. Together, we build a community that stands united in the fight against blood cancer and blood disorders such as Thalassemia and Aplastic Anemia. Let’s continue spreading hope and friendship, inspiring more acts of kindness that save lives and create lifelong connections.”
Since its inception in 2019, DKMS-BMST has helped 95 patients find a matching stem cell donor and undergo a lifesaving transplant. The organization aims to register numerous donors in India and worldwide to give as many patients a second chance at life as possible.