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Rotary District 3291 & DKMS BMST Foundation India unite to raise awareness on blood stem cell donation

To raise awareness about the significance of blood stem cell donation and motivate young individuals to register as potential lifesavers, D...

To raise awareness about the significance of blood stem cell donation and motivate young individuals to register as potential lifesavers, DKMS BMST Foundation India collaborated with the Rotary District 3291 to spread awareness about the importance of stem cell transplantation for blood cancer and blood disorder patients.

Distinguished members from Rotary District 3291 like RC Calcutta Visionaries, RC Calcutta Maidan, RC Calcutta Mayfair, RC Kolkata Urbana, RC Calcutta Yuvis, BNI Prudent and Young Indians (Yi) came together to register as potential stem cell donors in order to inspire the youth to become potential lifesavers by enrolling in the global registry of stem cell donors.

In India, where over 1,00,000 people succumb to blood cancer annually, yet only 30% of patients needing a stem cell transplant can find HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen-tissue type) matching donors within their families. More than 70% of patients are looking for unrelated donors, but due toa  lack of awareness, only 0.04% of the Indian population is registered as potential stem cell donors. Given the significance of ethnic matching, the probability of Indian patients finding a suitable stem cell donor is significantly higher when seeking donors among fellow Indians.

The chief guest at Sunday's event held at the ICCR was District Governor, Rtn Hira Lal Yadav, Rotary District 3291, who said, “Through our work at The Rotary, we emphasize that serving others is a way of life. By caring for and serving others, we hope to impact society sustainably. We highly value DKMS-BMST contributions in aiding blood cancer and blood disorder patients. We firmly believe that if we ignite the spark within us, we can look beyond ourselves and give someone a second chance at life. There is nothing more extraordinary than the act of saving a life. As an institution, we take great pride in being part of an initiative that raises public awareness about the significance of registering as a blood stem cell donor and its profound impact on a patient's life.”

Dr. Jeevan Kumar, Sr. Consultant-Department of Clinical Hematology and BMT, Tata Medical Center, Kolkata who was the guest of honour said, “Donating stem cells that are present in blood is similar to donating platelets. Every year, about 65,000 new searches are initiated worldwide for an unrelated matching donor, but in India, only 0.04% of people are registered as potential stem cell donors. India has one of the highest ratios of searches that do not result in transplantation. This gap can be bridged only when more and more people from different ethnicities in India are a part of the donor registry maintained by organizations such as DKMS-BMST.”

Shia, a seven-year-old thalassemia survivor, attended the event along with her family. Shia's battle with thalassemia began when she was just nine months old. In the span of a year, Shia's life took a positive turn when a selfless 29-year-old stem cell donor, Debojyoti, a techie from Bengaluru, was found to be a match for Shia. He donated his blood stem cells and gave Shia a second chance at life.

Rtn Deepak Agarwal, President, Rotary Club of Calcutta Visionaries, said: “It was surprising to see such a lack of awareness on such an important issue. We decided that it was the need of the hour. I urge the young brigade specially, to understand the importance of Blood Stem Cell Transplants in saving lives, and come forward and register themselves as potential donors. After all, it is them who will carry the torch a long way.”

"DKMS-BMST remains dedicated to conducting multiple awareness and registration campaigns in collaboration with esteemed clubs, with a special emphasis on engaging the younger generation. Their ongoing participation in the registry significantly enhances the chances of finding matching donors for patients like Shia, who are in desperate need,” added Patrick Paul, CEO of DKMS-BMST.

Leading Tollywood actress Rituparna Sengupta was a special invitee who pledged her support for this noble cause.


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