Technopark wakes up to the cause of bone marrow donation.

That techies are on the whole a socially conscious lot seems a given considering that a large number of them are actively involved in the multitude of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, individually or under the aegis of their companies. Voluntary blood donation drives are especially popular on campus in Technopark. Now, as part of the massive worldwide efforts to find a stem cell donor for Nalini Ambady, a professor of social psychology at Stanford University, who is in a race against time with leukaemia, Technopark held its first ever bone marrow donation drive on Tuesday.

The response from the employees of Technopark was “overwhelming,” says P. Vijayakumar, chief executive officer, Testhouse India, one of those who spearheaded the initiative as part of the CSR activities of Group of Technology Companies (GTech). “It was really an ad hoc drive and we just had only one day to promote it. Yet, we were able to collect samples from 450 people at Technopark! And we had to stop only because we ran out of screening kits,” says Vijayakumar. In fact, when in a similar stem cell donation drive was held in city a few days previously, 126 or so donors signed up to take swabs from their inner cheeks. “Out of the 126, a fair number of the donor volunteers and also the organising volunteers turned out to be from Technopark. That was why we decided to have the one on campus,” explains Vijayakumar.

Insiders who have been taking part in and/or organising blood donation drives since they were introduced on campus back in the early 2000s, say that a large number of people turning up for such a social cause is a welcome sign. “The turnout at the event that was held at Tejaswini building’s atrium indicates that inhibitions regarding voluntary blood donation have come down and awareness has increased within those on the campus, at least. When we first introduced voluntary blood donation drives, at the most only 10 to 20 people would turn up. Nowadays, whenever we have such campaigns (at least once every couple of month) we always get 50 to 75 donors,” says techie Sthanu Thambi, who has been involved in blood donation activities at Technopark since the very beginning. “It is a good sign also because if the donors permit they can be added to one of the national bone marrow registries. Actually, very few registries of bone marrow donors exist worldwide and that too only a handful cater to the specific Indian gene pool. India, for instance, has only has four registries, and only around 75,000 enrolled donors,” says Vijayakumar.

However, they caution that voluntary bone marrow donation, unlike the more straightforward voluntary blood donation, is an entirely different game altogether. “Kudos to all those who signed up but taking swabs of the left and right inner cheeks is only the beginning. It’s debatable whether people are fully aware that quite a long and painful procedure follows if and when they turn out to be a match. We suggest one proceed with caution,” says Sthanu.