In March this year, Karthik Shankaran found his leukemia had relapsed. Shankaran, 35, based in Chennai, is one of hundreds of Indians looking for a bone marrow match so he can receive a transplant.
Friends of Stanford professor Nalini Ambady have launched a large campaign to help her find a match, both in India and the US. Though Ambady’s is the best-publicised case so far, she is one among several others, such as Shankaran, searching for a match.
There is Help Sachin, Match Ravi, Save Raman: all multi-pronged campaigns trying to get people to give their cheek swabs to become potential donors.
“I know at least 8 other people who are currently searching for a match,” said Shankaran. “There is no organised way to do it. You just have to keep trying.”
In Princeton, New Jersey, Raman Sadwal, 33, is running out of time to find a match. Diagnosed in January with leukemia, friends and family have since launched the saveraman campaign online. “He desperately needs a transplant,” said his wife Ritu.
Like Ambady, these people too, have launched online campaigns through websites, Twitter and Facebook. But there are hundreds of others without the resources to launch organised efforts, but who could benefit from the higher profile campaigns.
Registries are constantly getting match search requests. One of two main national donor registries, Mumbai’s Marrow Donor Registry (India) started accepting search requests 3 months ago and has received 58 requests till now.
Datri, the other one, with a 30,000 database, gets around 50 search requests a month. “There are many patients waiting for a donor," said Sunil Parekh, chairperson, MDRI. “But not all have resources to organise larger campaigns."