Kharagpur: In an effort to raise awareness about the importance of blood stem cell donation and inspire individuals to become potential lifesavers, DKMS BMST Foundation India recently organized a registration drive for stem cell donors during the ‘National Students’ Space Challenge (NSSC),’ India’s largest Space-Technology festival, hosted at IIT Kharagpur.
As the festival’s official social initiative partner, DKMS-BMST set out to encourage students to become potential lifesavers by enlisting in the global registry of stem cell donors. The response was overwhelming, with over 250 students registering and expressing their commitment to this noble cause.
In India, where over 70,000 people succumb to blood cancer annually, accounting for 8% of all new cancer cases, a blood stem cell transplant from an HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) matching donor is often the only hope.
However, only 25-30% of patients in need can find HLA matching donors within their family, leaving 70% dependent on unrelated donors, accessible through stem cell registries. Given the significance of ethnic matching, the probability of Indian patients finding a suitable stem cell donor is significantly higher when seeking donors among fellow Indians.
Patrick Paul, CEO, DKMS BMST Foundation India, said, “The availability of matching blood stem cell donors remains a significant challenge for Indian patients in need of life-saving transplants. India being the youngest population, it is crucial to encourage more young individuals to register as stem cell donors. Our aim is to amplify awareness about blood stem cell donation through students and youth, as they represent the future of the nation.”
Patrick Paul said, “DKMS-BMST is committed to hosting numerous similar awareness and registration campaigns at educational institutions nationwide, with a particular focus on the youth demographic. Their sustained presence in the registry significantly enhances the likelihood of finding matching donors for patients in need.”
Priyansh Agarwal, Sponsorship and Marketing Head, organizing committee, National Students’ Space Challenge 2023, IIT Kharagpur, said, “I am delighted that NSSC’ 2023 has joined forces with DKMS-BMST as the social initiative partner. We highly value their contributions in aiding blood cancer and blood disorder patients. We firmly believe in the immense potential of today’s youth to inspire their peers toward this noble endeavour.”
Priyansh Agarwal said, “There is nothing more extraordinary than the act of saving a life, and as an institution, we take great pride in being part of an initiative that raises public awareness about the significance of registering as a blood stem cell donor and its profound impact on a patient’s life.”
Today, more than 41 million potential unrelated donors are listed worldwide with stem cell donor centres and registries, of which only 0.04% are Indians. This situation can only be changed by recruiting more potential blood stem cell donors from India. Registration takes only 5 minutes of your time.
If you’re between 18 and 55 years and in general good health, take the first step to register as a blood stem cell donor by ordering your home swab kit at www.dkms-bmst.org/register.