In a country where over 1,00,000 Indians are diagnosed with blood cancer, thalassemia and aplastic anemia, the demand for blood and bone marrow transplant far outweighs the supply. Genebandhu, an NGO working towards building a stem-cell registry for those suffering from blood-related diseases aims to build an extensive and diversified data pool of stem-cell donors to provide a ready solution to over a hundred diseases.
Aditya, at a very young age developed blood cancer. To survive, he needed a willing stem cell donor. With just a single cheek swab, Dr Vimarsh Raina and his team at Genebandhu can test the blood compatibility between a donor and Aditya. If a donor is found HLA (Human Leucocyte Antigen) compatible, a bone-marrow transplant can be done to save the child's life. Aditya found a donor from France and was successfully treated of cancer.
How does it work?
This is a true story but unfortunately not the only one. With over 1 lakh other children like Aditya, there is an urgent need for a stem-cell registry like Genebandhu that gives people the option to commit towards HLA typing and donating bone marrow.
Globally, there is a large database of HLA typed donors, with the US leading the numbers of people willing to donate. A larger database means higher probability of finding an unrelated genetic match.
Genebandhu is one of few NGOs in this space that can make an immediate impact on the lives of children with blood diseases. Already, 2475 people have committed to the cause. They just need to be HLA-typed and stored in the database. Till that is done, their contribution will not be of use.
Due to financial constraints, Genebandhu cannot proceed with the HLA Typing of these 2475 donors. Registering one donor on to the database costs Rs 3000, and the total goal is to raise Rs 74,25,000 to have all 2475 donors HLA-typed and able to save lives of millions in the future.
Countries like USA, Canada, Germany etc, have their own database of stem cell donors. Although we have access to these registries, it is difficult to find a match in them since the gene pool of Indian population is quite conserved and diverse. Even if a patient finds his potential match abroad, the costs of the treatment can go up to three times the normal amount.
These donors are willing to donate stem-cells, a process that will require them to take injections for five days before donating their blood. It is a contribution of time and comfort to save another human being.
Donate to affirm their efforts and save thousands from life-threatening diseases.