DKMS-BMST Gets Grooving to Raise Awareness for Blood Cancer

The NGO hosted a flash mob ahead of World Blood Cancer Day encouraged people to register as blood stem cell donors

BENGALURU, May 27, 2024: To raise awareness about blood cancer, DKMS BMST Foundation India, a non-profit organisation committed to battling blood cancer and blood disorders, teamed up with “Good Move Wellness & Studio” to host a flash mob ahead of World Blood Cancer Day (May 28).

The flash mob comprising 50 participants stormed up a buzz in Koramangala’s Nexus Mall over the weekend. This increased the curiosity amongst the patrons and enhanced their knowledge about the burden of blood cancer in India and how we can help these patients. The two-day campaign also engaged members of the community with a quiz on blood cancer which doubled up as an educative tool on the subject. To further encourage people to join hands in the battle against blood cancer, a registration drive for potential blood stem cell donors was held at the venue by DKMS-BMST.

Patrick Paul, CEO, DKMS BMST Foundation India stressed the urgency of addressing the lack of awareness about blood cancer in India. He said, “In India, over 1 lakh people are diagnosed with blood cancer or a blood disorder each year, yet only 0.09% of the population is registered as potential stem cell donors. This severe shortage is particularly challenging because patients of Indian origin have unique HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) characteristics that are under-represented globally. With the help of initiatives like the flash mob and registration drives, we aim to educate and encourage more individuals to register as donors, thus enhancing our efforts in the battle against blood cancer.”

Janhvi Sharma, Founder, Good Move Wellness & Studio said, “When DKMS-BMST approached me about participating in the flash mob to raise awareness for blood cancer and commemorate World Blood Cancer Day, I felt truly honored. As the saying goes, ‘To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak,’ – this sentiment echoed in my mind, thinking about the patients battling blood cancer and blood disorders, as well as those who have bravely faced this illness. I hope our small act in the form of dance showcases our support for this noble cause and more people will come forward to register as potential lifesavers. My group and I will also register as stem cell donors by providing cheek swab samples. It’s incredible to think that a few moments of our time can give someone a second chance at life! I appreciate the efforts of organisations like DKMS-BMST who are doing their best to help those in need.”

Every 5 minutes, someone in India is diagnosed with blood cancer or a blood disorder like Thalassemia or Aplastic Anemia. Many such patients are children and young people whose only chance of recovery is a stem cell transplant. For a successful stem cell transplant, the patient needs to find an HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) matched donor. Most often, the majority of the patients are unable to receive a transplant due to the unavailability of a matching blood stem cell donor. With very few individuals signing up as potential blood stem cell donors, finding a matching donor is difficult. This increases the need for more people of Indian ethnicity to register themselves.

To register as a potential stem cell donor, you must be a healthy Indian adult between 18 and 55 years of age. When you are ready to register, all you need to do is complete a consent form and swab the inside of your cheeks to collect your tissue cells. Your tissue sample is then sent to the lab to be analysed and listed anonymously on the international search platform for matching stem cell donors. If you’re eligible, take the first step to register as a blood stem cell donor by ordering your home swab kit at www.dkms-bmst.org/register

So far, DKMS-BMST India has registered over 1,00,000 stem cell donors in the country and facilitated 110 transplants since its inception in 2019, significantly impacting the fight against blood cancer. The organisation aims to register more donors in India to give a second chance at life to as many patients as possible.

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