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Bangalore Medical Service Trust teams up with Germany-based DKMS to bolster stem cell donors in India

Our Bureau, Bengaluru
Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Bangalore Medical Service Trust (BMST), a centre of excellence service provider in the areas of blood banking, transfusion and immunohematology, has partnered with Germany-based DKMS to encourage stem cell donors in India.

On the occasion of the World Blood Cancer Day, observed annually on May 28, DKMS commemorates its 28 years of existence in this space.

Now DKMS BMST Foundation India will provide access to a large pool of potential blood stem cell donors to provide patients suffering from blood cancer and other blood disorders such as Thalassemia or Aplastic Anaemia, both in India and worldwide, with a second chance at life.

According to Dr Biju George, Professor  & Head, Department of Haematology, CMC Vellore, every 5 minutes someone in India is diagnosed with blood cancer and other blood disorders wherein Leukaemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma are the top 3 forms to be found. While blood cancer is life-threatening, a set of healthy blood stem cells from a matching donor can be life-saving. The registry DKMS-BMST at present has over 27,000 registered potential blood stem cell donors. This number will increase considerably over the years with the aim of finding a matching donor for every patient in need.

Highlighting the impact of the myths that exist in India, Dr Latha Jagannathan, medical director & managing trustee of BMST said that out of the 27,000 registered potential blood stem cell donors, 12 of them have already donated to patients to save their lives.

Blood cancer and other blood disorder cases need a blood stem cell transplant to survive.   Unfortunately, they are not able to receive a transplant due to the unavailability of a matching blood stem cell donor. In India, only 0.03% of the total population is registered as a potential blood stem cell donor. This is significantly lower than many other countries including the US where 2.7% and Germany where 10% of the population is registered as a potential donor. A lack of understanding and multiple baseless misconceptions existing amongst people about the process impacts the cause. It is high time that we all overcome this and commit to being a life saver to save our children, she added.

“A successful blood stem cell transplant needs a perfect HLA tissue match. Patients and donors of Indian origin have unique HLA characteristics that are severely under-represented in the global database, which makes the probability of finding a suitable donor even more difficult. Around 70 per cent of patients do not find a matching donor within their family and instead rely on finding an unrelated donor in the global database.

Annually 80,000 donor searches are initiated across the globe. At DKMS, we are working to find a donor for every patient. Through this venture with BMST, we will be able to save many more lives. Indian patients mainly require an Indian tissue match and there is a need to increase awareness and encourage many more people to register as a blood stem cell donor after an HLA characteristics is determined,” said Dr Elke Neujahr, global chief operating officer, DKMS.


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