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DKMS BMST Foundation India amplifies efforts to spread awareness on blood stem donation to fight blood cancer / disorders

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The foundation is working with mission to give as many blood cancer, other blood disorder patients as possible with second chance at life, is making best use of virtual platforms to raise awareness about cause

DKMS BMST Foundation India is amplifying its efforts to provide information, bust associated myths around blood stem cell donation, and support blood cancer patients through constant education and awareness sessions. The foundation is working with a mission to give as many blood cancer and other blood disorder patients as possible with a second chance at life, is making the best use of virtual platforms to raise awareness about the cause. They are registering potential blood stem cell donors through their online registration portal.

In the absence of on-ground awareness drives due to the pandemic and social distancing guidelines, numerous webinars, and volunteering sessions are being conducted with corporates, colleges, and more have been planned in the upcoming days. In the last one month, the foundation has organised webinars with HCG group of hospitals, Oracle, Collins Aerospace, Volunteer for a Cause, Rotaract, Government Engineering College, Kozhikode to name a few.

Patrick Paul, CEO, DKMS BMST Foundation India said, “Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, we should not forget that there are still lakhs of patients in India who suffer from blood cancer and other blood disorders like thalassemia and aplastic anaemia and they need our support. These patients need a stem cell transplant to get a second chance at life. For a successful stem cell transplant, blood stem cells from a matching donor are required and 70 per cent of the patients are dependent on an unrelated donor. We endeavour to encourage people to come forward and register online as a potential lifesaver.”

The webinars are hosted by a panel of renowned transplant physicians and blood stem cell donors and are attended by student volunteer groups, social workers, rotary club members, IT, and healthcare employees. Over 1000 people have attended such sessions and many other institutions are showing interest in organising these awareness webinars in the coming days.

Dr Sachin Jadhav, Haematologist, Head, BMT Unit, HCG Group of Hospitals, said “We organised a webinar for our employees in association with DKMS-BMST to raise awareness about the impact of blood stem cell donation for blood cancer patients. India has a huge blood cancer burden accounting for 8 per cent of all new cases of cancer diagnosed, yet blood cancer is the least talked about cancer. Many blood cancer patients are children and young people whose only chance of recovery is a blood stem cell transplant. Every year over 70,000 new searches are initiated worldwide for an unrelated matching donor. Mainly due to the lack of a matching donor, India has one of the highest ratios of searches that do not result in stem cell transplantation. The first step to this would be for us to register ourselves as potential blood stem cell donors and help patients get a second chance at life.”

The more people register the better the chances of saving every blood cancer patient’s life that requires a blood stem cell transplant to survive. “Through our online link www.dkms-bmst.org/register, anyone between 18-50 years can register with a simple cheek swab which can be requested from us. You will then need to complete a consent form and swab the inside of your cheeks to collect all-important tissue cells. Our laboratory analyses your tissue types (Human Leukocyte Antigen) and enters them into our database. Your details will then be available in the global search for blood stem cell donors. Once you come up as a match, blood stem cells will be obtained from the bloodstream using a procedure called peripheral blood stem cell collection, which is similar to a blood donation wherein only your blood stem cells are taken. This is a very safe, non-surgical outpatient procedure,” added Paul.

Through these virtual sessions, over 200 people have registered themselves and the organisation has planned similar virtual events in the coming months with different corporates and volunteer groups across India.

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