Stem cell donor saves thalassemic boy

(Stem Cells News image)

A two-year-old Delhi boy suffering from thalassemia got a new lease of life after a Bangalorean donated his blood stem cells to him. This is the first reported case in India of a thalassemia patient receiving blood stem cells from an unrelated donor.

Garvit Goel was advised to go for a blood stem cell transplant a year ago. None of his family members qualified to be potential donors. That’s when Sumeet Mahjan, a software professional from MindTree, stepped in.

For Sumeet, the turning point came in 2011 when his colleague’s 11-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia. MindTree requested Datri, an NGO working on networking stem cell donors to help people suffering from blood disorders, to look for a potential donor. Datri conducted a workshop and awareness campaign at MindTree to make techies aware of the life-saving benefits of stem cell donation. The boy died, but the sustained campaign ensured many registered their names for blood stem cell donation.

“In January 2013, I was asked by Datri if I could donate stem cells for a two-year-old thalassemia patient from Delhi. I was chosen as a potential donor. After consulting Datri and the doctors, I felt responsible and went ahead with donation,” Sumeet told TOI.

For five days Sumeet was given growth factor injections. He then underwent a half day’s non-surgical procedure. “Garvit underwent the unrelated peripheral blood stem cell transplant in April 2013 and is now free from thalassemia and saved from the trouble of constant blood transfusion. We need 3-5 million blood stem cells per kg of recipient’s body weight. Over 150-200ml of blood was used,” says Dr Dharma R Choudhary, director, BLK Super Specialty, New Delhi (…)

With very few registered donors in India, the possibility of finding a genetically matching donor for an Indian anywhere in the world is low. Datri Blood Stem Cell Donors Registry is working towards creating a wide and diverse database of potential donors who can be accessed by any patient, living anywhere in the world, in need of life-saving blood stem cells.


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