*Blood stem cell transplant is often the only life – saving treatment option for blood cancer patients
*Only 30 % patient in need of a stem cell transplant find a match in their family ; the rest 70 % have to find an unrelated matching donor
* Only five lakh Indians are registered as potential blood stem cell donors , which is abysmal compared to Western countries
Bengaluru , 26th May 2022 : Blood stem cell transplant is often the only lifesaving treatment option for patients with blood cancer . Around one – year post transplant , most patients go on to lead near normal lives . However , lack of awareness about the treatment is a big challenge in India , due to which it is a race against time for patients waiting to find a matching donor . This was stated by medical experts in Bengaluru while marking the World Blood Cancer day , in an event organized by DKMS BMST Foundation India , a non – profit organization dedicated to the fight against world blood cancer .
Dr. Sunil Bhat , Director & Clinical Lead , Pediatric Hematology , Oncology and Blood & Marrow Transplantation , Narayana Health , Bengaluru : ” If a genetically well – matched , young and healthy donor is available , the outcome of blood stem cell transplant is very good . The success rate differs with variations in patient and disease characteristics but , if done at the right time , 60 70 % patients can be completely cured . In fact , the success rate has increased up to 80 % with advancement in the conditioning regimen . Studies suggest that more than 70 % of patients report good to excellent quality of life in 1-4 years after the transplant . ”
Over the last two decades , better diagnosis and disease awareness has led to a definite increase in incidence of blood cancer in India , especially in patients belonging to lower socio – economic strata . These patients are being diagnosed at advanced stage of the disease , leading to higher morbidity and mortality . A large number of patients from underprivileged sections and remote locations go undiagnosed and the incidences are not reported .
Unavailability of matching blood stem cell donors is the main challenge faced by Indian patients in need of a transplant . Said Patrick Paul , CEO , DKMS BMST Foundation India , only about 30 % of the patients can find a sibling match and the rest 70 % depend on finding a matching unrelated donor . As per the World Marrow Donor sociation , there are over 39 million donors registered across the globe . Only 0.5 million of these are from India . When someone needs a blood stem cell transplant , their odds of finding a match is much higher from among people of the same ethnicity . Hence it is very important for more Indians to step forward to register as donors so that more patients can be saved . ”
Every year , over 70,000 people die due to blood cancer in India , even as over 1 lakh new patients get diagnosed . Said Dr. Sunil Bhat : ” Both malignant and non – malignant conditions can be treated with a blood stem cell transplant , including Lymphoma , Leukemia , Myeloma and Hodgkin’s diseases . Knowing the type and subtype of leukemia is important in estimating life expectancy . The 5 – year survival rate for children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia ( ALL ) has greatly increased over time and is now about 90 % overall . The 5 – year survival rate of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia ( AML ) has also increased over time and is now in the range of 65-70 % . Early detection and initiation of treatment along with proper compliance from patient side will reduce both mortality and morbidity . ”
Maheer found his lifesaver from Germany
Maheer , hailing from Ahmedabad , was just 6 years old when he was diagnosed with acute leukemia . He got a second chance at life when he found a matching donor registered with DKMS , Dr Sita Arjune , a medical doctor from Cologne , Germany .
It has been nine years since Maheer received the transplant . ” At that time , I was very young , so I did not know what was happening , or why . There was so much anxiety , and my parents were so worried . My father told me there was an issue with my blood but that it would all be sorted . After the transplant , everyone felt much happier , ” said Maheer .
Dr Sita , who was elated to have helped a patient in need , said , ” As soon as I found out about the plight of Maheer , I knew I had to help . Suddenly , there was someone I could give hope to through my donation . Hope is something we all deserve . ” Maheer is now 14 years old . He has managed to beat leukemia and now has the gift of a bright future to look forward to . He loves to listen to music , play with friends , travel and do research , especially in the field of medicine .
He has a very important message for people : ” The only reason I am here breathing , living , speaking , is my transplant . This donation gave me my life back . What could be more beautiful than that ? By donating stem cells , you could give someone a new life . So , please sign up as a potential lifesaver !
Registration takes only 5 minutes of your time . If you’re between 18 and 50 years and in general good health , take the first step to register as a blood stem cell donor by ordering your home swab kit at http://www.dkms-bmst.org/register .
City Today News