DKMS-BMST organized a virtual event to facilitate this magical moment between the survivor and her blood stem cell donor
The 4th of February is marked as World Cancer day every year. This day is observed to spread awareness about the disease and its increasing burden.
This year’s World Cancer Day was marked by a heart-warming moment where a Blood Cancer survivor and a wonderful nurse from Kuwait virtually met her lifesaver for the first time. The meeting was organized by the non-profit organization DKMS BMST Foundation India, dedicated to the fight against blood cancer and blood disorders, such as Thalassemia and Aplastic Anemia.
Sheeja, 38, suffered from Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, a form of blood cancer. She needed a blood stem cell transplant to survive and was fortunate enough to find her lifesaver- Suneel Narayan, a 34-year-old finance professional from Bengaluru who donated his blood stem cells and gave Sheeja a second chance at life!
As per the International guidelines, the identity of both the blood stem cell donor and recipient are kept anonymous for a period of two years and thereafter depending on their interest they are introduced to each other.
Sheeja’s treating physician and one of the panellists in the virtual event Dr. Biju George, Professor & Head, Department of Hematology, CMC Vellore said, “In India, every year, over one lakh people are diagnosed with a form of blood cancer and it remains one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths among children. Most people are unaware that a life-threatening disease like blood cancer can be treated and often, a stem cell transplant is the patient’s only chance at survival. Stem cell registries like DKMS-BMST recruits voluntary donors and help thousands of patients like Sheeja who require lifesaving stem cell transplant.”
Suneel had registered as a potential stem cell donor with DKMS-BMST in 2019 and after a few months, he was found to be a match. Suneel said, “when I got the call saying I came as a match for a patient, I was surprised. My little contribution, which only took a few hours of my effort, had such a big impact on my recipient. And today, even though it was through a virtual medium, I felt so proud to see her healthy and doing well. I hope that more individuals would join this noble cause and help patients who are battling blood cancer”.
Patrick Paul, CEO, DKMS-BMST, said, “Every 5 minutes someone in India is diagnosed with blood cancer and blood disorders. For many patients, the search for a matching blood stem cell donor is the beginning of a race against time. Our focus is always on registering as many committed donors as possible. So far, DKMS-BMST has registered over 50,000 potential donors and has helped 50 patients with a second chance at life.”
Sharing their experience Sheeja’s husband John said “We felt helpless when Sheeja was diagnosed with blood cancer. We were given a light of hope when we came to know that a blood stem cell transplant could save her life. We were fortunate to find a matching donor within a few months through DKMS-BMST. There are no words to express our gratitude to Suneel for saving my wife’s life; we wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”
Today, over 39 million potential unrelated donors are listed worldwide of which only 0.04% are Indians. This situation can only be changed by recruiting more potential blood stem cell donors from India. If you’re between 18 and 50 and in general good health, take the first step to register as a blood stem cell donor by ordering your home swab kit with DKMS-BMST.