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Information on Stem Cell Donation

Introduction: Stem Cells are characterized by the ability to renew themselves through mitotic cell division and differentiating into a diverse range of specialized cell types. Stem cells are grown and transformed into specialized cells with characteristics consistent with cells of various tissues such as muscles or nerves through cell culture. Highly plastic adult stem cells from a variety of sources, including umbilical cord blood and bone marrow, are used in medical therapies.

Usage in our context: Gaurav's bone marrow has to be completely replaced by that of a matched donor. Donor's stem cells will be harvested to develop new bone marrow for the patient.

Donor Databases (Registries): The developed countries maintain a database of potential donors' stem cells. For example US' bone marrow registry called as NMDP has about 7 Million donor records. Whenever a patient needs a match, his HLA typing is matched with that of the potential donor from the registry. If a match is found, the donor is requested to donate his stem cells. The probability of finding a match with in our own race is 1 in 20,000.

Unfortunately, we do not have a registry in India yet. Hence, our doctors have to search for donors outside India. This has 2 major impacts - 1) the possibility of finding a match reduces (since the probability of finding a match is most in your own race) and 2) the cost of getting the bone marrow in India from foreign countries is high.

Building Registry in India: An NGO called Datri from Chennai has taken up this challenging task of building registry in India. Datri is headed by a young and dynamic CEO - Raghu Rajagopal. We are conducting donor drives in some cities with the help of Datri to build this registry. This will not only help Gaurav, but also numerous cancer patients in India and the world.

Getting registered as donor: If you are interested in saving somebody's life, you need to register yourself as a potential donor at Datri's registry. The process of registering is very simple. You have to take the sample of your stem cells by rubbing an ear bud in your buccal cavity (mouth). However, this can be done when a donor drive is conducted in your city or your office. Please contact us, if you can arrange for a donor drive. Donor drives are required to collect many more samples at one go.

Becoming a donor: If your HLA typing matches with that of any patient, you can donate your stem cells. This is absolutely voluntary. You have no obligation to go through the process if you feel uninclined at any stage. In the donation process, peripheral blood stem cells transplant is usually performed where the stem cells from your blood stream are filtered and infused into the patient. It’s a simple process like donating blood. You can usually return back to your day-to-day life immediately.

You can find more information in this presentation by Datri. You will require Microsoft Powerpoint to open this file.

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