In his soft, mellifluous voice, music composer A.R. Rahman delivers a series of facts: matching stem cells can cure over 70% of Indians with blood cancers, over 90% cannot find a match because Indian DNA is different and India does not have a large enough bone marrow registry.

“If you are between 18 and 50 years, it is your time to save an Indian life. Sign up with me as bone marrow donor,” Mr. Rahman says, in a short video made by the Jeevan Stem Cell Foundation, which maintains a registry for those in need to find a stem cell match.

The video has been uploaded to Youtube ahead of the World Blood Cancer Day on Sunday, which falls on May 28, the video has been uploaded to YouTube. “We decided to request Mr. Rahman to help us as he has a huge fan following across all ages and communities, in the country and worldwide,” said Saranaya Narayan, medical director, Jeevan Stem Cell Foundation. Jeevan’s stem cell registry was started in June 2015, and now has close to 4,000 registered donors.

There are an estimated 25,000 children affected by blood cancer every year across the country, said Revathi Raj, paediatric hemato-oncologist, Apollo Hospitals. “At least 40 per cent of these children will need a bone marrow transplant. Only 30 per cent of them, have a matched family donor. For the rest, we have to depend on volunteer donors, which makes stem cell registries very important,” she said.

Donation Process

When donors register, they go through an HLA typing, which is a simple blood test or buccal swab that determines their HLA type — this is used to determine compatibility between a prospective donor and recipient. “If they are called upon to donate, they undergo a thorough medical examination to ensure they are fit, and the process is similar to blood donation,” said Dr. Raj.

It takes about three to four hours to donate, said Dr. Narayan. The city also has another blood stem cell registry, DATRI, which has over 21,000 donors registered, according to its website.

Article Credits: Zubeda Hamid for The Hindu