Blood cancer patients need matching blood stem cell donors to survive
Kochi, 31st, October 2022: DKMS BMST Foundation India, a non-profit organization dedicated to the fight against blood cancer and blood disorders conducted a weeklong blood stem cell donor registration drive at SCMS School of Technology and Management, Sacred Heart – NSS Unit 31, SCMS School of Architecture NSS Unit SFU/MGU/ERK/2, Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship – XSEED, and St. Paul’s College- NSS Unit 38 in Kochi. Over 600 students came forward and registered as potential blood stem cell donors by giving their cheek swab samples.
Every 5 minutes, someone in India receives the shattering news that they have been diagnosed with blood cancer or blood disorders like Thalassemia or Aplastic Anemia. A stem cell transplant from an HLA-matched donor is often the only chance at survival for these patients. Most often majority of patients are unable to receive a stem cell transplant due to the unavailability of a matching blood stem cell donor. With very few individuals signing up as potential blood stem cell donors the probability of finding a matching donor gets difficult. This increases the need for more people of Indian ethnicity to register themselves and help save a life.
Patrick Paul, CEO, DKMS BMST Foundation India said “Many blood cancer patients lose their lives because no matching stem cell donor is found in the registry. In India there is only 0.04 per cent of the Indian population is registered as potential blood stem cell donors. 70% of the patients don’t find a match in the family and they depend on an unrelated donor. Thus, there exists a need for a diverse stem cell donor database in the country”.
One of the students from the drive said that “I feel so proud that I am given a chance to save someone’s life and by doing this I would like to create a positive impact on people’s lives. Also, going forward I will educate my peers and spread awareness about the importance of blood stem cell transplants. And this noble cause that gave me a platform to register as a potential lifesaver. The process was very simple wherein you just have to give your cheek swab sample and sign a consent form.”
A successful blood stem cell transplant needs a perfect HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) tissue match. There are more than 28,000 HLA characteristics (and more keep being discovered!), that exist in millions of combinations. Patients and donors of Indian origin have unique HLA characteristics that are severely under-represented in the global database, which makes the probability of finding a suitable donor even more difficult. Our objective is to find perfect stem cell donor for every person when one is needed. But to get there, we need more people to come forward to join the registry and commit to save someone’s life. We are thankful to young students who have supported us in our drive, volunteered towards betterment of the society. We organize many registration events and also have online registration to encourage healthy individuals between 18-50 age-group register as potential donors.” Says Patrick
Donor’s swab samples are analyzed for HLA (Human Leukocyte and the data is the available for global search for patients in need. Once a donor comes as a match, they are asked to donate their blood stem cells through a process similar to blood platelet donation.
In India, many blood cancer patients are children and young people whose only chance of recovery is a stem cell transplant. Registration takes only 5 minutes of your time. If you’re between 18 and 50 years and in general good health, take the first step to register as a blood stem cell donor by ordering your home swab kit at www.dkms-bmst.org/register