Take the first step, save a life

Take the first step, save a life

Battle leukemia

In India over 100,000 people are diagnosed with leukaemia and other blood disorders, every year. 

With leukemia being one of the most common types of cancer around the world, a report by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), suggests that by this year end, the number of cases is estimated to reach 117,649 and the projected cases to touch 132,574 by 2020. Further studies have indicated that these numbers are projected to nearly double by 2035.

In an effort to contain the growth of the fatal disease, DATRI, a non-governmental organisation, along with Apollo hospitals, has initiated the largest registry of voluntary blood stem cell donors under the campaign ‘Get, Set Go Orange!’, with orange signifying Leukaemia.

 The organisation aims to kick off a nationwide awareness drive to educate and encourage people to voluntarily come forward and support a Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) transplant, one of the most effective tools known to counter the disease.

PBSC Transplants are done from a healthy donor whose leukocyte antigen type matches with that of the patient. However, there is only a 25 per cent chance of finding a match within the family.

In such cases there is an urgent need to find an ‘unrelated donor’ or a cord blood unit through the public registries. With very few registered donors available in India, the possibility of finding a match for an Indian anywhere in the world is low.

 “With the launch of this drive, we encourage more people to come forward and take the first step in saving a life. Each one of us has the possibility of saving a life,” said Raghu Rajagopal,CEO, DATRI.

Rajagopal added that the response the initiative has received till now has given hope to him. “ It is very encouraging to see that 70,000 people have already joined our Blood Stem Cell Donors registry and 82 of these have matched with patients in need and saved their lives by donating their blood stem cells.

We hope that we will be able to make a difference to many more lives and at the very least find a matched donor for the over 1,000 patients who have reached out to us and are still looking for a match,” Rajagopal added.

After a successful donor drive in Bangalore, the organisation now aims to rally various hospitals across and has managed to find some who are equally passionate about the ‘cause’. While in Bangalore the organisation managed to get Narayana Health and Balagangadharanatha Swamiji hospitals on board, DATRI has turned its attention to the Capital of India.

Dr Shishir Seth, Hemato-Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant Consultant, Apollo Cancer Institute, while talking to Metrolife touched upon the issues patients face in metropolitans like Delhi. “The size of families today is small hence chances of finding a full match donor is extremely low. Moreover, in India where healthcare is still in a developing stage and the access to advanced technology is not fully available, we face a serious shortage of donors,” Dr Seth said.

He, however, added that registry can do wonders for patients suffering from the disease. “PBSC transplants is perhaps the best possible procedure to cure  ailments like Aplastic anaemia. Having a registry can give hope to many,” he concluded.

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