With the rising cases of blood cancer among people in India, DATRI, India’s biggest stem cell registry is joining hands with several hospitals and medical agencies to encourage more blood stem cell donors in the country. In a recent development, Aster CMI Hospital, in collaboration with DATRI, is launching a donor registration campaign. As per estimates, a meagre 2,000 such transplants take place in India each year for which 80,000 to 1,00,000 donors and transplants are required to cater to the rising cases of blood cancers in India. Such drives in India are essential as there exist several myths and misconceptions in the minds of donors regarding stem cell donation. Commenting on the need of having more such donors, Dr Vijay Agarwal, Lead & Sr. Consultant Medical Oncology & Hematology, Aster CMI Hospital said, “There is a dire need to call in more and more people to register as blood stem cell donors. There is a lack of awareness and also misinformation surrounding this topic. For the same, just a simple swab of the inside of your cheeks is required to determine your HLA characteristics. Also, registering for the same is extremely simple.”
Why do we need blood stem cell donors?
Fatal blood disorders are a growing concern, increasing the burden on hospitals arranging for donors. Such drives are essential to spread awareness among those who have very little knowledge about this topic, further giving a new lease of life to a dying patient.
The critical part: Anyone can donate stem cells. A test named Human Leukocyte Antigen is used to match the blood of the donor and the patient. Only 25-30 per cent times the blood type matches, increasing the need for more and more donors. There is a myth that people think their energy levels will be affected by donating their stem cells. However, all of this is just in mind and is a straightforward procedure.
Who can all be stem cell donors?
The following checklist fulfils the criteria of being able to donate blood stem cells:
- Individuals between the ages of 18 to 50
- Must not have HIV or any blood-related problems in the past
- Free of conditions like thalassemia or anaemia
- The person should not have a case history of cancer
- The person should not have a case history major kidney or lung-related diseases
- The person’s body weight should be average
Myths and Facts of Stem Cell Donation
Following are some of the myths and supporting facts that surround this medical concern in the country:
MYTH: The donation process is painful and lengthy. The registration is also not simple to become donors.
FACT: The process of donating blood stem cells is non-invasive and non-surgical. For the same, donors are required to donate blood from the arm vein. No large or painful needles are used in this process.
MYTH: Donating blood stem cells might make the donor weak and tired.
FACT: Only a meagre 5 per cent from the donors stem cells is required. This percentage is replaced by the body naturally in just 4-6 weeks, without affecting the health of the donor.
MYTH: Donating blood stem cells can lead to side effects in the body.
FACT: At times, donors might feel symptoms like headache and flu due to injecting of some medicine in the body. These symptoms, however, disappear once the effect of the drug fades from the body.
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