As I write this post today, there are three people turning down offers to donate their blood stem cells after they have been identified as potential matches as donors for patients suffering from Leukemia.

This brings many questions to my mind…

  • Is your time more valuable than someone’s life?
  • Would you register yourself as a donor without actually having any intention of donating at all?
  • Can an adult not make decisions for himself without being pressurized socially by the people around him?

I hear that these three registrants could have saved a couple of lives by taking the right decision today but they have chosen to back-off due to social reasons. While one is being emotionally traumatized by his mother,  the next is “too busy” to bother and the final one is “getting married” soon and cannot risk getting any “fever”.

While we have made it very clear that there are no known side-effects except made flu like symptoms which can easily happen after any sort of blood donation, people are still skeptical of the whole process and when it is their turn to actually go through the process to SAVE A LIFE, they are not sure anymore.

I take this opportunity to apprise you of the entire blood stem cell donation process (yet again):

DATRI is a non-profit organization that has been set up to help save lives of those suffering from life threatening disorders like leukemia, lymphoma etc.

With very few registered donors available in India, the possibility of finding a match for an Indian anywhere in the world is very bleak. DATRI is working towards creating a wide and diverse database of potential donors that can be accessed by any patient, living anywhere in the world, in need of a stem cell transplant.

What does DATRI do?

STAGE 1: Collect samples 
  • Buccal Cells – A cotton swab is rubbed inside your cheek.
Processing the Samples to analyze the DNA
  • Once a sample is collected, it is processed in a state-of-the-art lab at Histogenetics, a partner of DATRI.
  • HLA typing is done and a unique code is assigned to every sample.
Database 
  • The Genetic information of an individual obtained after thorough analysis is stored in DATRI’s database.
STAGE 2: Search for a match 
  • The patient’s tissue typing (genetic information) needs to match very closely with that of the donor, to enable a successful transplant.  If your bone marrow appears to be a suitable match for someone waiting for a transplant, you’ll be contacted immediately. You’ll undergo a brief examination to find if your bone marrow can be transplanted. Your physical fitness is examined by taking a small blood sample, to ensure that you are medically eligible to donate. Once you are found to be a potential donor, sufficient information about the process involved is provided, and a simple and harmless procedure is performed.
FINAL STAGE: The Transplant Process 
  • DONOR: Once a match is found, stem cells are obtained from the donor. The process is usually as simple as drawing blood. In case of a Peripheral Blood Stem Cells transplantation, blood is drawn from a vein from one arm and is passed through a machine that removes the blood-forming cells. Rest of the blood is returned through a vein into the other arm. The procedure to donate PBSC takes approximately 4-6 hours.
  • PATIENT: The stem cells are then infused into the patient’s blood stream.

Please note that it costs approximately Rs 2500 (roughly $50) to process EACH of the buccal swab kits collected. This cost is not incurred by you but someone else who values your sentiment and is willing to help! It is your responsibility to understand the process before you register yourself as a potential donor.

Here is a concise video created by the DATRI team that clarifies the process in a simple manner: The DATRI stemcell donation process. After all this, if you are unsure of being able to go through ANY of the above stages for a peripheral stem cell donation, do yourself and us a favor- DO NOT REGISTER!

In related news: AMIT GUPTA is STILL looking for a DONOR and NEEDS YOUR HELP!

Who is Amit Gupta?
An Indian, a friend and a human being who needs help. He is the founder of PhotojojoIn the past… he started Jelly, worked with Seth Godin to start ChangeThis, broughtBarCamp to NYC, started a co-op called House 2.0, contributed to a WSJ best-seller with Malcolm Gladwell, Guy Kawasaki and others, and started a venture-backed company called The Daily Jolt while in college. You can follow Amit on twitter here.

What has  happened?
Amit has been diagnosed with Acute Leukemia, has undergone a few months of Chemo and now needs to find a donor before November 30th 2011, to facilitate his bone marrow transplant. South Asians are severely under-represented in the bone marrow pool, and he needs help!

Why only till November 30th?
Amit’s doctors want to do the transplant as soon as possible, to improve his chances of survival. They’ve set November 30th as the deadline for test swabs to be submitted for processing, though test swabs will still be welcomed after this time.

What can I do?
Do a swab test at the nearest drive. Look up http://amitguptaneedsyou.com/ for the details on the latest drive in your location. You need to be aged between 18- 55 years to do this swab test! Do share this news using the hashtag #ISwabbedforAmit and get all your friends and folks to do the same.

An article in 'Bangalore Mirror' Pg 6 dated 26/11/2011

Is the test painful?
A swab test is a quick and simple process, where a cotton swab is rubbed inside your cheek. It is later processed to determine your genetic typing. In India, an NGO named DATRI runs a Datri Blood Stem Cell Donors Registry and  is taking care of the test kits for us.

What if I am the match? Will the bone marrow transplant harm me?
In case of a successful genetic match, stem cells are obtained from you (donor) and injected into the patient’s blood stream. This process takes about 5 days in all and is as simple as donating blood at the end of it all. To get a good picture of the process, download and watch this explanatory video. There are no known side effects of this process except many smiles and the pride of knowing you saved a life :)

What if I am not a match?
If you are not a match for Amit today, you could well be for someone else tomorrow. DATRI will register you as a potential donor for future and you will be contacted for possible matches. Therefore, it is imperative that you fill in your contact details accurately in the form provided to you during the swab test.

I am personally organizing a few drives in Bangalore (http://bangalore4amit.eventbrite.com) and http://chennai4amit.eventbrite.com/ in Bangalore and Chennai. Find the location nearest to you and see you there!

P.S: You can also check here for the addresses of the upcoming drives worldwide: http://amitguptaneedsyou.com/

Amit Gupta, an Indian entrepreneur in New york needs a bone marrow transplant and you can help. Please share this video to help spread the word. Visit amitguptaneedsyou.com for more info.

 If you live in Bangalore, chances are you can help not only Amit, but the many, many other people around the world. South Asians have a dramatically lower chance of finding a match in the worldwide bone marrow registries than other populations. While this is a big and often tragic problem, it’s one that can be fixed!

So what can you do?
Get to the nearest drive in Bangalore on 26-27th November 2011.The event is ALL-DAY and you can walk-in anytime between 10am to 6pm to show you CARE. List of places and the dates are below:
Saturday 26th November

1) My Gola Technologies
Panchatara Towers| #446, 2nd Floor 17th Cross, Sector 4
HSR Layout |BANGALORE -34 | Organizer and Contact Neha: +91 72592 81211.

2) Greenery Apts, Plain St, Infantry road. Bangalore 01.
Contact: Vishal @ +91  9535293850

Sunday 27th November

1) Greenery Apartments, Plain Street, Infantry Road. Bangalore 560001. Contact person: Vishal @ +91 95352 93850.

2) Sant Nirankari Mandal. 88 Rathnavilas Road, South end circle. Near Pai convention centre.
Basavanagudi, Bangalore – 560004. Contact: Rajesh @ +9199802 21056

DATRI, the Indian bone marrow donor registry will have their kits at each of these venues to help you find out if you are THE MATCH! As a bonus, each drive can add dozens or even hundreds of new potential donors to the database — meaning your efforts will help not just Amit but a countless more find a match.

Plus, it’s REALLY EASY! DATRI is dedicated to helping anyone host a drive, and the test only takes a few minutes and a Q-tip-like swab inside the cheek. This is virtually painless, maybe less painful than donating blood. Have questions about the swab test or the stem cell donation process? This FAQ link compiled by DATRI is most helpful http://datriworld.org/faqb.html

What happens if you are THE one? Well then, your cells will help someone live- perhaps the best gift you can give ANYONE.

Donating bone marrow is much simpler than it sounds the procedure is
often misunderstood. Hope this article helps: The Truth About Bone Marrow Donations – Save a Childs Life by Donating Bone Marrow – Marie Claire.

See you soon! If you wish to let us know that you are coming: Here’s the RSVP page on Eventbrite: 

Amit needs YOU!

Amit Gupta needs a bone marrow transplant and you can help. I have taken up the task of organizing drives at a couple of venues in Bangalore on 26 and 27th November 2011. Stay tuned for more news!

Please share this video to help spread the word.

Amit Gupta is an entrepreneur of Indian origin, based in USA, and has recently been diagnosed with Acute Leukemia. When he went to see his doctor for his continued loss of weight and weariness, he was handed a diagnosis of Acute Leukemia. He has started with his chemotherapy regime and is now slated to get a bone marrow transplant.

And THAT is where the problem begins. South Asians are very poorly represented in bone marrow registries. So his chances of getting a match off the registries in the US are bleak, at the best. With Indians faring even worse, one of the websites actually reckons that he has a chance of something around 1 in 20,000 to 100,000. Not the best of odds, and you don’t have to be a betting man to say that. Hence, he decided to pack his bags and skip back home. And now he needs us. But the problem is, thanks to the bureaucratic behemoth in the Indian health system, we do not have a national donor registry yet. This makes it even more difficult for people of Indian origin anywhere in the world to get a bone marrow transplant when they need one… Read more

Related News Stuff from the Bigger News Joints:

IBN: Online campaign to help Indian-origin entrepreneur Amit Gupta fight cancer

NDTV: Wanted: Brown Bones [loved their take on it, loved their title!]

Huffington Post: Help Amit Gupta: $30,000 Reward Offered For Bone Marrow Match [now I know the secret to success of the HP! Look at the title! That says it all!]

(via scepticemia.com)

Quoting Seth Godin from his blog 

My friend and colleague Amit Gupta is fighting off leukemia and the twittersphere is lighting up with expressions of support.But the support he really needs is for you to get a Q-tip, stick it in your cheek and mail it back. The process is free and you can sign up right here. How about if we gamify it? Here’s the deal: if you are a match for Amit and the marrow donation happens, I’ll profile you or the project of your choice on the blog and send you a check for $10,000 for you or the charity of your choice. Winner take all, no purchase necessary, void where prohibited… (Even if you don’t win, if you swab we all win). [Updated to reflect a statute I was unaware of: You win the prize if you’re the first certified match, but donating is completely up to you. It takes a year for records to be released, but I’m good for it. If this still doesn’t pass muster, the prize goes to charity. And of course, this is an offer from me, not endorsed by any agency or organization, etc.]

 Visit www.amitguptaneedsyou.com for more info.

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