DKMS BMST Foundation India Completes One Year of Its Operation in India
With a mission of giving second chances at life to blood cancer patients, DKMS-BMST is expanding its footprints across India in registering potential lifesavers and saving lives!
This world blood cancer day, DKMS-BMST celebrates a milestone of registering over 42,000 potential life savers in a time period of one year in India. This group comprises of individuals who range from 18-50 years of age and have pledged to donate their blood stem cells to a blood cancer patient in need.
Focused on helping patients with blood cancer and other blood disorders, DKMS-BMST has been able to save 28 unique lives in this period of one year including children diagnosed with blood cancer and other blood disorders like Thalassemia.
Peter Harf founded DKMS on the 28th of May 1991, motivated to find a matching donor for his wife Mechtild who was suffering from leukemia. Though Mechtild ultimately did not survive, in the first year of operations DKMS managed to expand the registry from 3,000 donors to 68,000. DKMS has grown exponentially in the years since and currently maintains the world’s largest and most diverse donor databases. With offices in Germany, the US, UK, Poland, and Chile, as well as a joint partnership with BMST in India, DKMS is a global leader in the fight against blood cancers and blood disorders.
“Patients affected by blood cancer or Thalassemia need a blood stem cell donation. Worldwide, only 30% of them can find a match within their families and hence there is a dire need to find an unrelated donor. We started our operations in India last year with an intent to add potential blood stem cell donors of Indian ethnicity to the global database, so that patients (especially from this unique ethnicity) living in different parts of the world have a fair chance of finding a match and probably gain a second chance at life. We cannot thank enough, the people who are on-board and are helping us spread the word to add more and more people to this database”, said Paul Patrick, CEO, DKMS BMST Foundation India.
Sharing his experience Mohd. Saifulla, father to a 4-year-old Thalassemia survivor said “We went to multiple doctors trying to assess the problem our child had and thereafter to find a matching donor who could save her life. Receiving this transplant was the only chance of life for my daughter and we can never thank Debojyoti, a 28 years old software professional, enough, who donated his blood stem cells that matched our daughter. It is only because of organizations such as DKMS-BMST that people are coming forward to donate blood stem cells and save a life. My entire family is indebted to them for lifetime. Today my daughter is living a happy and healthy life and we are preparing to celebrate her 5th birthday this year that seemed like a dream to us up till a few years back”.
“Last year on World Blood Cancer Day, DKMS, one of the largest international blood stem cell donor centers in the world dedicated to the fight against blood cancer and blood disorders joined forces with Bangalore Medical Service Trust (BMST), a center of excellence in blood banking, transfusion and immunohematology adding India to the largest global repository of potential blood stem cell donors in the world. Every year, over 100,000 people in India are diagnosed with blood cancer or a blood disorder such as Thalassemia or Aplastic Anemia. Such life-threatening conditions can be managed by infusing a set of healthy blood stem cells from a suitable match. Since, ethnicity plays a crucial role in finding a matching donor, the ratio of potential blood stem cell donors from India needs to rise significantly”, says Dr. Latha Jagannathan, Director, DKMS BMST Foundation India.
Harsh, a blood stem cell donor registered with the foundation said, “With very limited knowledge about blood stem cells I believed they were present only in the bone marrow and extracting them was a complex process. But to my surprise, the process is very similar to blood platelet donation. I strongly feel that anyone who is made aware that a simple process with zero complications can give you a chance to save a life will not hesitate from committing themselves towards the cause”.
Capturing the challenges, the NGO faced in the country, Patrick said, “We realized very early in India that a decision of this nature is not alone of the donor, but also involves his/her family. Hence, explaining the process, inculcating right awareness to break myths, updating people on the technological advances of blood stem cell donation and counselling them with medical experts has been our modus operandi in the country. Thus far, we have been able to conduct many physical drives to reach out to people urging them to register as potential donors. We plan to expand our reach to many more regions this year so that we are able to add potential donors from varied population groups in the country”.
DKMS-BMST has organized over 1000 donor registration drives in one year across various organisations such as corporates, educational institutes, hospitals and defense forces to spread awareness about blood stem cell donation and enroll more potential donors. Few names where physical drives have been conducted includes Mindtree limited, HSBC, HP enterprises, Christ University, RV College of Engineering, apart from public drives at Orion Mall Bengaluru, Lalbagh Botanical Garden etc.
In the current lockdown situation, the team is working tirelessly to ensure that patients whose donations were scheduled do not face any challenges and are organizing awareness sessions through webinars and calling for registrations through the online portal: www.dkms-bmst.org/register.