'Awareness about bone marrow transplant up, but myths persist'

'Awareness about bone marrow transplant up, but myths persist'

Despite incre­asing awareness about bone marrow transplant, various myths are still associated with it, which deter donors, doctors say.

Dr Sharat Damodar, head of the bone marrow transplant unit at Narayana Health, has lamented the fact that not many people had registered with Datri, an online group that helps to link donors with recipients.

“The numbers have slightly picked up. People are coming forward to donate stem cells but it is a long way to go,” he said at a press conference here on Tuesday. Only 50,000 people have registered with the group while the demand is much higher, he added.

In some cases, however, a change in the situation might have forced people to withdraw from the list. “Sometimes, people register on the website. When they get married a few years down the line, their spouses don’t allow them to donate,” Dr Damodar said.

Dr Sunil Bhat, paediatric oncologist at Narayana Health, said the number of people registered for bone marrow transplant in India was lower than in the west. “In other countries, over 70 per cent have registered. But in a country like India, which has a diverse genetic make-up, it is difficult to find appropriate matches,” he said.

Moh, a resident of Kammanahalli, had to undergo frequent blood transfusion after being diagnosed with thalassemia at a very young age. But her lifestyle changed after her parents opted for bone marrow transplant.

“Even as she often underwent blood transfusion, the challenge was to keep her iron levels low,” her father Gimmi Xandras explained. Later, it was after her elder sister’s bone marrow was transplanted that the situation improved, he said.