DKMS BMST Foundation India, Kokilaben Hospital call for awareness on stem cell donation

According to experts, blood cancer patients in India struggle to find matching stem cell donors

DKMS BMST Foundation India in association with Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, highlighted the treatment of blood cancer in India faces a major challenge. The scarcity of compatible stem cell donors is a significant problem, and with many lives at stake, blood stem cell transplants have become a crucial treatment for those in need. During this event, DKMS-BMST facilitated stem donors Samarth, Pranjal and Shashank, who recently donated their blood stem cells and have become proud lifesavers.


Dr Santanu Sen, Consultant, Paediatric Hematology, Oncology, and Stem Cell Transplantation at Kokilaben Hospital, Mumbai, said, “Every five minutes, someone in India is diagnosed with blood cancer and blood disorders such as Thalassemia and Aplastic Anemia. Many such patients need a blood stem cell transplant to survive. An HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) matched donor is required for a successful stem cell transplant. However, only a fraction of patients find an HLA-matched donor within their family, and for about 70-80 per cent of the cases, patients look for a matched ‘unrelated’ donor. Every year, about 65,000 new searches are initiated worldwide for an unrelated matching donor, but due to the lack of a matching donor, 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.”

Patrick Paul, CEO, DKMS BMST Foundation India, said, “As per the World Marrow Donor Association, there are over 41 million donors registered across the globe. In India, there is a huge demand and supply gap in patients looking for stem cell transplants from a matching donor. Finding a matching blood stem cell donor remains a critical obstacle for Indian patients seeking life-saving transplants. Establishing a robust donor database can bridge the gap between patients and potential donors. India has a large population with diverse ethnicities; therefore, it becomes very important that more and more people from varied ethnic backgrounds register as stem cell donors. We urge more individuals to come forward, give their cheek swab sample to become a lifesaver-in-waiting, as every new registration brings hope to those in need of a lifesaving stem cell transplant.”

As of now, over 13,000 individuals have enrolled in the DKMS-BMST donor stem cell registry in Maharashtra, and there are over 90,000 registrants throughout India. Additionally, in the past four years, the foundation has facilitated more than 100 blood stem cell transplants nationwide. The organization aims to register many more donors in India and worldwide to give as many patients a second chance at life as possible.

Dr Santosh Shetty, CEO, Kokilaben Hospital said, “We are honoured to join hands with DKMS-BMST to mark World Marrow Donor Day and raise awareness about the importance of stem cell transplantation in the fight against blood cancer and blood disorders in India. At Kokilaben Hospital with our largest and one of the most advanced BMT units, we take immense pride in our commitment to advancing stem cell therapy, making Stem Cell Transplants accessible for thalassemia patients. We have touched more than 250 lives, including several underprivileged patients, at minimal cost, enabling them to embrace a Thalassemia-free life and break free from complications. Each success story reaffirms our leadership in transforming lives.”


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