When Thalassemia survivors met their stem cell donors

Five-year-old Vanshika (yellow T-shirt), a Thalassemia survivor, with her blood stem cell donor Dr Shruthi Kakkar and three-year-old Disha K G, who was diagnoised with Hurler’s Syndrome, with her saviour Prakash Kumar at a union of donors and recipient

It was an unusual union of the donors and recipients of blood stem cells. There was not a single being in the gathering without moist eyes. Families were overwhelmed with joy to meet the saviours of their daughters suffering from Thalassemia and Hurler’s Syndrome.

For five-year-old Vanshika Rohra from Mumbai, born with Thalassemia, the saviour came in the form of Dr Shruti Kakkar, a haematologist from Ludhiana.

The doctor said that that it was an emotional day for her as she met her recipient.  “Being a haematologist, I am dealing with 250 children with major Thalassemic patients in my hospital and I understand their pain. There are many children waiting for the donors to save their lives, and its about time for people to come forward, register and donate,” she added.

It was quite an emotional moment for Vanshika’s parents to have finally met the donor. Vanshika’s father said that it was difficult to see his daughter go through painful blood transfusion every month and they were desperately looking for a donor. Mother Jhanvi said, “thank you”, was too small a gesture to express her gratitude towards the donor.

Unlike Vanshika, who easily got talking to her donor, for three-year-old Disha K G, it was her gift from the donor that mattered the most.

Disha was diagnosed with Hurler’s Syndrome and was in dire need of a match. Her saviour came in the form of 35-year-old finance professional from Udupi, Prakash Kumar.

Disha’s mother broke down on the stage. She expressed her gratitude by touching Prakash’s feet. She explained about her family’s struggle to get a donor for her daughter.

Prakash himself has a story behind becoming a donor. He has inspired 16 members of his family to register to become blood stem cell donors. Prakash became a donor after he lost his 10-year-old cousin to blood cancer.

Datri hopes to create a pool of donors

The donors and recipients were able to connect to each other through Datri, the largest adult unrelated blood stem cell donor registry.

Datri has over 3,75,000 registered donors across India, and so far, managed to facilitate 468 transplants since its inception in 2009. In Bengaluru alone, 46 transplants have been carried out and about 49 persons are registered with Datri.

Raghu Rajagopal, co-founder and CEO of Datri, said that 10% of the population in Germany and 3% of the US population have registered as blood stem cell donors. In India, we have just around 0.043% of registered donors for the population we have. “Even among our donors, about 43% of the donors are not coming forward for donation as their decision is either not supported by their family or misled by doctors. It is unfortunate to know that there is a lack of awareness among the medical fraternity itself about blood stem cell donation,” he added. To register yourself has a donor, log in to www.datri.org.

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When Thalassemia survivors met their stem cell donors

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