Indian-origin blood cancer survivor meets her blood stem cell donor
Bengaluru: An Indian-origin blood cancer survivor from Kuwait for the first time virtually met her blood stem cell donor who gave her a second chance at life.
Sheeja, 38, a nurse in Kuwait suffered from Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, a form of blood cancer. She needed a blood stem cell transplant to survive.
Suneel Narayan, a 34-year-old finance professional from Bengaluru had, in 2018, registered himself as a potential blood stem cell donor with the non-profit organization DKMS BMST Foundation India, dedicated to the fight against blood cancer and blood disorders, such as Thalassemia and Aplastic anaemia.
He donated his blood stem cells and gave Sheeja a second chance at life.
“When I got the call saying I came as a match for a patient, I was surprised. My little contribution, which only took a few hours of my effort, had such a big impact on my recipient. And today, even though it was through a virtual medium, I felt so proud to see her healthy and doing well,” Suneel said.
“I hope that more individuals would register as potential lifesavers and help patients who are battling blood cancer,” he added.
February 4 is marked as World Cancer Day every year to spread awareness about the disease and its increasing burden.
In India, every year, over one lakh people are diagnosed with a form of blood cancer and it remains one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths among children.
“Most people are unaware that a life-threatening disease like blood cancer can be treated and often, a stem cell transplant is the patient’s only chance at survival. Stem cell registries like DKMS-BMST recruits voluntary donors and help thousands of patients like Sheeja who require lifesaving stem cell transplant,” said Dr Biju George, Professor & Head, Department of Hematology, CMC Vellore, who treated Sheeja.
“We felt helpless when Sheeja was diagnosed with blood cancer. There are no words to express our gratitude to Suneel for saving my wife’s life; we wish him all the best in his future endeavours,” said Sheeja’s husband John.
Healthy individuals between 18-50 years of age can register as blood stem cell donors at dkms-bmst.org/register and give hope to patients waiting for a matching donor.