CHENNAI: A 28-year-old youth from the city gave a new lease of life to a blood cancer patient by donating his blood stem cells here on Thursday.
The donor M Hari Babu of Chennai works in a software company. Around four months ago, DATRI, the Chennai-based registry for blood stem cell donors, conducted an awareness campaign in his firm. Hari Babu was moved and registered as a donor.
On Wednesday, he donated his blood stem cells to treat a blood cancer patient.
Hari is one of 1.15 lakh donors who have registered across the country, but experts claim that awareness among the people remains low.
"Though 10,000 babies are born with thalassemia every year in our country, yet there is a shortage of donors. The probability of finding an unrelated genetically matched blood stem cell donor is 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 2o lakhs," said Revathi Raj, paediatric haematooncologist, Apollo Hospitals.
She added that 45,000 new cases, including children, of blood cancer were being reported in the country. Nearly a third of them required blood stem cell transplants and only a few were lucky to find a family donor.
According to figures from DATRI, Tamil Nadu stood second in number of donors. There are nearly 21,500 donors, whereas Kerala has close to 23,000 donors. "Though many youngsters are coming forward as donors, when we call them to donate hurdles surface. Their parents disagree, so it becomes a huge challenge for the counsellors," said Raghu Rajagopal, CEO, DATRI.
Explaining the procedure he said, once a donor registers, his samples are taken and human leukocyte antigen type (HLA) is entered in the database.
When a patient needs blood stem cells and the blood type matches, "The donor is called for a master health check up. And then for five days, an injection is given for the stem cells in the bone marrow to migrate to the donor's blood after which stem cells are collected and transfused in the recipient," he added.