Mumbai

‘Gratitude isn’t enough for man who saved my life’

Saving lives: (From left) DATRI co-founder Raghu Rajagopal, recipient Siddarth Koyal, Dr. Sunil Bhatt of Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre, donor Mehul Korat and chairperson of Mumbai Thalassaemic Society Jasmine Majethia.

Saving lives: (From left) DATRI co-founder Raghu Rajagopal, recipient Siddarth Koyal, Dr. Sunil Bhatt of Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre, donor Mehul Korat and chairperson of Mumbai Thalassaemic Society Jasmine Majethia.  

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18-year-old thalassemia patient meets Surat resident who donated his stem cells for transplant

The Mumbai Press Club witnessed an emotional meeting recently between an 18-year-old suffering from thalassemia major since childhood and a Surat resident, who donated his stem cells and saved the teenager’s life.

The meeting was organised by DATRI, an NGO which had facilitated the transplant. DATRI, the Sanskrit word for donor, is registered with Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide and maintains a registry for unrelated blood stem cell donors. DATRI members said the patient, Siddarth Koyal, was diagnosed with the disorder when he was four years old. For the past 18 years, Mr. Koyal has been undergoing regular blood transfusions. His medical condition restricted him from pursuing higher education abroad till his mother Sangita volunteered at DATRI and learnt that there were stem cell transplant options available.

DATRI then went through its records and found Mehul Korat (30), an employee with a private firm in Surat, in 2018. Mr. Korat had registered with DATRI in 2016 at a camp held to find a match for another patient. The transplant was held in November 2018.

“I am happy that I donated. I had seen my friend do it earlier and felt confident I could do the same. I believe you are not important because of how long you live, but because of how you live,” Mr. Korat said. The donor and patient were kept anonymous for one year as per the registry protocol. However, both families later expressed their desire to meet each other. Mr. Koyal said, “I don’t think I can express my gratitude to the man who saved my life. Simply thanking him won’t be enough.” Mr. Koyal, who is in good health now, will be leaving for Canada next year to pursue film studies.

The operation was conducted by Dr. Sunil Bhatt, director and clinical lead, paediatric hematology, oncology and blood and bone marrow transplantation, at Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre in Bengaluru. Dr. Bhatt also conducted the post-operation care.

“Blood stem transplant, also known as bone marrow transplant, is required for cancerous and non-cancerous diseases. Around 90% of the patients can be cured with the transplant process and it is safe for both the donor and the patient,” said Dr. Bhatt, who also attended the meeting.

DATRI members used the opportunity to create awareness of stem cell transplants. “As many as one lakh patients need a stem cell transplant in India. This occasion is an additional motivation to increase the number of donors in the registry,” Raghu Rajagopal, co-founder of DATRI, said at the event.

Stressing the need for potential blood stem cell donors, Dr. Bhatt said 41,427 donors are registered with DATRI as potential blood stem cell donors from Maharashtra, which is very small when compared with the State’s population.

Recently, DATRI announced the requirement of a blood stem cell donor for three-year-old Veer Gudhka from London, suffering from fanconi anemia, a rare genetic disorder that leads to low stem cell production. Interested parties can contact DATRI through their website: datri.org.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 3:30:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/gratitude-isnt-enough-for-man-who-saved-my-life/article30308636.ece

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