Garima Gandhi (30) can get a call from Tata Memorial Hospital, Parel, at any time. The Goregaon resident doesn’t have any relative admitted there. But, when required, she will rush to the hospital to donate her stem cells so they can be transplanted into the body of a stranger suffering from leukaemia.
“I will not lose anything and will still help save someone’s life,” said Gandhi.
Gandhi is one of the 50-odd people who have joined the Marrow Donor Registry (India) — a database of unrelated donors maintained at Tata Memorial — after reading a Hindustan Times report, dated January 4, on the need for stem cell donors.
“More than 100 people have called the registry to enquire about becoming a donor but many were not eligible as they were too old or unwell,” said Dr Pravin Clement, who handles the database.
Some readers have also offered to organise camps to raise awareness about stem cell donation. “How can I be sitting around when some one out there is dying because he/she can’t find a donor?” said engineering student Shreeyesh Sreenivasan, who plans to get more youth to register.
Transfusion of stem cells taken from bone marrow can cure blood-related diseases like leukaemia and thalassemia. But the chance of finding a donor with the same genetic tissue type in the family is only 25 per cent.
The Marrow Donor Registry (India) was started in April 2009 to help patients find unrelated donors. So far, only 2,250 people have enrolled.
The HT article had revealed that though families of around 20 patients from across the country have contacted the Indian registry but none have found a match yet. “India needs a pool of least 10 lakh donors to increase chances of finding suitable match for patients,” said Dr Sunil Parekh, who was instrumental in setting up the registry.