A surreal story unfolded as Mandeep, a blood cancer survivor met his lifesaver also named Mandeep for the first time. An event was organised by DKMS BMST Foundation India, to mark World Cancer Day and celebrate the first meeting between the stem cell donor and his recipient.
Mandeep, blood cancer survivor, 35-year-old, a farmer from Punjab was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia in 2009. Unfortunately, though Mandeep was advised for a stem cell transplant, he could not find a Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) matched stem cell donor within his family.
Mandeep had to wait for over 3 years before an HLA matching unrelated donor was identified with the help of DKMS BMST Foundation India and he underwent stem cell transplant in January 2020. Mandeep (blood cancer survivor), said, “Cancer was a big shock to me and everyone around me.
I was healthy and doing well, when suddenly everything just crashed. I was advised a stem cell transplant by the doctors, but we could not find any matching donor from my family. After a colossal struggle of over a decade against cancer, my struggle ended when a matching unrelated donor was identified with the help of DKMS-BMST.
I was treated under the expertise of Dr. Dinesh Bhurani, Director, Department of Haemato-oncology & Bone Marrow Transplantation, at Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Center, New Delhi. And it was amazing that I was able to get the transplant done in January 2020.
Today, I am completely cured. I have waited for over two years to meet my genetic twin, whose stem cell donation saved my life, and coincidently he is my namesake. I am very grateful to Mandeep (Donor), because of him, I got 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.
Mandeep (Stem Cell Donor, 39-Year-old) said, “It was truly wonderful to meet with Mandeep (blood cancer survivor). After my stem cell donation in December 2019, I had always wondered about the well-being of my stem cell recipient, and finally today we get to meet.
My wife is also a cancer patient, and I do understand the pain and agony of the family members. I registered as a stem cell donor in a registration drive organised by DKMS-BMST in my office in 2018. After being identified as a match, DKMS-BMST team guided me in every step and I donated my stem cells in a hassle-free manner.”
Patrick Paul, CEO, DKMS-BMST Foundation India, said “It is always a very happy occasion for us when we introduce the cancer survivor with their lifesaver for the first time. So far, DKMS-BMST has registered over 80,000 potential donors and has helped 80 patients in India with a second chance at life.
It is our endeavour to provide blood cancer and blood disorder patients with a second chance at life. India has one of the highest burdens of these life-threatening diseases in the world, and every year, over one lakh new patients are being diagnosed. These diseases are 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 by a stem cell transplant.”Dr. Govind Eriat Nair, Consultant Hematology Hemato-Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant Gleneagles Global BGS Hospital, Bengaluru, informed, “Stem cell transplantation from a related or unrelated donor is a standard treatment for blood cancer and disorder patients.
This stem cell transplant after 3 to 4 months of chemotherapy helps the patients to recover from the disease.
Without the stem cell transplant, the chances of relapse are quite high. When matching donor is not available within the family, a search is carried out with help of registries like DKMS-BMST to find a matching unrelated donor, just like in the case of Mandeep.
Therefore, the need of the hour is to increase awareness and encourage more Indians to register as stem cell donors so that more lives can be saved.”Today, more than 40 million potential unrelated donors are listed worldwide with stem cell donor centres and registries.
Of which only 0.04% are Indians. This situation can only be changed by recruiting many potential blood stem cell donors from India. If you’re between 18 and 55 and in general good health, take the first step to register as a blood stem cell donor by ordering your home swab kit at www.dkms-bmst.org/register
About DKMS BMST Foundation India
A non-profit organization dedicated to the fight against blood cancer and other blood disorders, such as thalassemia and aplastic anemia. Our aim is to improve the situation of patients suffering from blood cancer and other blood disorders in India and throughout the world, by raising awareness about blood stem cell transplantation and registering potential blood stem cell donors.
By doing this DKMS-BMST provides patients in need of a blood stem cell transplant with a second chance at life.DKMS-BMST is a joint venture of two reputed non-profit organizations: BMST (Bangalore Medical Services Trust) and DKMS, one of the largest international blood stem cell donor centers in the world. For more information, please visit dkms-bmst.org