Bangalore, May 2022: To raise awareness and give hope to Thalassemia children, Aster Hospitals in partnership with i Love To Care (India) Charitable Trust and DKMS-BMST Foundation India organized Stem-cell Donor drive on the occasion of World Thalassemia Day. The drive was organized to encourage people to come forward and register as stem cell donors. As a part of the awareness drive, the hospitals are also providing free health check-ups for thalassemia children, free HLA typing for children and their parents and discount on lab tests (CBC, Ferritin, Liver Function Test. The event witnessed Volunteers, Nurses and doctors coming forward and registering for stem cell donation. During the event, children with Thalassemia received toys, gifts and a special entertainment program (magic show) was organized by the hospitals.
The stem cell donation drive by Aster Hospitals is expected to bust several myths related to haemtopoetic stem cell donation, preventing an adequate number of donors from getting registered. Also, it will spread awareness among most Indians who do not have the knowledge that a one-time stem cell donation can give a new lease of life to a dying patient and is safe and causes negligible pain and discomfort. A significant percentage of the urgent need for transplants can be met if more Indians come forward to register themselves and donate stem cells.
Addressing the people, Dr. Stalin Ramprakash, Consultant – Paediatric Haematology, Oncology & BMT, Aster Hospitals, said, “Children with severe forms of Thalassemia need lifelong blood transfusions and careful monitoring for the complications of blood transfusion. Healthy red cells are transfused to support their growth and development. Stem cell transplant can cure thalassemia, but it is an intensive procedure. In this, the child’s original bone marrow is replaced with the new donor bone marrow. Then, the new bone marrow starts creating normal, healthy blood cells. We are thrilled to see so many people coming forward and registering themselves as a stem cell donor for saving lives through BMT.”
Children with thalassemia are usually normal at birth but soon develop symptoms including fatigue, shortness of breath, jaundice, and enlargement of the spleen. The condition is treatable and can be well-managed with blood transfusions and chelation therapy. It is important for Thalassemia patients to eat healthy, exercise, get all the recommended vaccinations, and develop positive relationships along with constant medical support and motivation from their doctor,” said, Dr. Raghuram C. P, Consultant – Paediatric, Haematology, Oncology & BMT, Aster Hospitals.
In India, every 6 minutes someone is diagnosed with blood cancer, thalassemia, or aplastic anemia. Often a blood stem cell donation by a voluntary donor could be their only chance of life. 70% of needy patients do not find a tissue (HLA) matching donor within their family and need an unrelated matching donor from a registry. Hence, there is a need to increase awareness and encourage more people in India to register as blood stem cell donors. It takes just a couple of minutes to register as a potential donor.
To register/pledge, he or she will first have to fill a registration form and consent form, followed by a cheek swab. The cell sample is then sent to a lab to determine the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) type, which is saved in the registry. These donors are then on the registry till 60 years of age. They could get the rare opportunity to give hope of a second chance at life by donating their renewable blood stem cells through a safe process.