Various forms of blood cancers and bone marrow disorders are among the deadliest disease that can inflict us.Not only the severity of the disease but also complex and costly treatment process accentuates the problem.My father is suffering from one such disease called Primary Myelofibrosis,a kind of rare bone marrow disorder with high fatality rate.At present, there is no cure for it in Allopathy (though Homeopathy does offer a ray of hope) except for bone marrow transplant which is probably the ultimate cure for any blood-related disorder.But it is a very risky process, especially at an advanced age.However,the risk reduces if a donor is found with a matching bone marrow as that of the patient.To find the degree of match,HLA test is done.
Usually,siblings are checked first as potential donors.But the chances of the match is around 25%.If a patient doesn’t find a donor within siblings then he/she has to look for an unrelated donor.For this, they look in registries which maintain HLA typing record of the potential donors.In the West,Stem Cell Donor registries contain lot donor entries and it is easier to save a life.But in India, this is not so.People are not generally aware of it.In fact,I came to know about this only after my father caught this deadly disease, even though I have donated blood several times.
This is a severe problem because we Indians have unique DNA make-up and hence it is difficult to find an international unrelated donor.Given the shrinking family size these days,it will be hard to find related donors in future.Further,new donors are needed because old ones are ineligible with time.
Hence it is us Indians who can save ourselves.So go ahead and register yourself as a donor at any of the registries in India.At present, there are three major registries as far as my knowledge goes.They are
- DATRI Blood Stem Cell Donor Registry
- Marrow Donor Registry of India (MDRI)
- Asian Indian Donor Marrow Registry (AIDMR)
I registered as a donor at Datri through the Internet.Within a week they sent me an envelope containing donor kit and detailed instructions for collecting cheek cell sample which is used for HLA typing of the donor.The method of collecting cheek cell is a non-invasive procedure (similar to the way you clean your ears using cotton bud).You can see more on a 1.5-minute youtube video (click here).So,I collected my sample and sent it back to Datri.The whole process cost me a bit of time and less than Rs. 30 in total (though there is an option of donation).
The actual donation process (if there is demand for your bone marrow by someone) is also simple with no/negligible side effect.Obviously, you neither pay nor get paid for donating bone marrow.But you will do a much greater task of saving someone’s life and become a real life hero.
Disclaimer- I have no tie-up with Datri.I just shared my experience which I found convenient and worth sharing.Please go ahead and register at any donor registry you find convenient.