Blood stem cell transplants can help treat many diseases such as thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, aplastic anemia and primary immune deficiency disorders.
"With blood cancers alone, we have about 45,000 new cases in India every year. About one-third of them require blood stem cell transplants and of these, only about one-third find a family donor," said Dr.Revathi Raj, pediatric hemato-oncologist, Apollo Hospitals.
"In many families, parents do not want their sons to donate stem cells to their own siblings because they think it will harm them. People have to know that the stem cells will regenerate in the body in a few weeks. The recipient will also begin to see improvements in their health six months after transplant," she added.
About 67,000 beta thalassemia patients are in the country, but only one in 10,000 people find a genetic match. Therefore, the need for more donors is imperative but awareness about donation remains poor across India.
A non-profit organization called, DATRI Blood Stem Cell Donors Registry in Chennai has achieved a milestone by registering 1 lakh voluntary blood stem cell donors.
DATRI co-founder and chief executive officer Raghu Rajagopal said, "We launched DATRI to help people affected by blood disorders. We have conducted over 800 donor drives across the country to reach this milestone mark. Tamil Nadu is the second largest donor of blood stem cells numbering at 16,854. We have facilitated 119 transplants and blood stem cell donation is very useful and can save a lot of lives."
To raise awareness about the first World Marrow Donor Day on Sep 19, DATRI has organized a slow cycle rally from Ticel Bio Park, Taramani. Participants of the rally addressed a small gathering of blood cancer and Thalassemia patients admitted at the Apollo Cancer Specialty Hospital and Voluntary Health Services.