DKMS BMST Foundation India and ROTARY DISTRICT 3291 Unite to Raise Awareness on Thalassemia - Songoti

DKMS BMST Foundation India and ROTARY DISTRICT 3291 Unite to Raise Awareness on Thalassemia

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Kolkata: DKMS BMST Foundation India collaborated with the Rotary Club of Calcutta Visionaries (RI Dist 3291) to organise a seminar to raise awareness about the significance of blood stem cell transplantation and motivate young individuals to register as potential lifesavers as the organisation observed World Thalassemia Day, on Wednesday (May 08) at the Adamas University, Barasat, Kolkata. A stem cell donor registration drive was also organised by DKMS-BMST in association with E-YUVA Centre (Supported by BIRAC) where more than 250 students registered as potential stem cell donors.

Thalassemia is widespread in our country, and more than 10,000 children are born with the disease every year. Thalassemia is a genetic condition in which a defect in the protein haemoglobin reduces the transport capacity for oxygen in the blood. Patients suffering from the disease can be cured with a stem cell transplant, ideally at an early age. The need for transplants in children is, therefore, extremely high.

However, only 30% of patients needing a stem cell transplant can find HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen-tissue type) matching donors within their families. More than 70% of patients are looking for unrelated donors, but due to a lack of awareness, only 0.09% of the Indian population is registered as potential stem cell donors. 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.


Talking about the DKMS-BMST Thalassemia program, Patrick Paul, CEO, DKMS BMST Foundation India, said, “It is our mission to support blood cancer and other blood disorders such as Thalassemia patients in India, for which we have launched the DKMS-BMST Thalassemia program. Under this program, DKMS-BMST collaborates with local NGOs and transplantation clinics to organize camps where paediatric thalassemia patients and their families travel from far places, sometimes from very remote places in India, to give buccal swab samples for HLA typing. Samples from the camps are analyzed in the DKMS laboratory based out of Germany and clinical matching reports of the same are provided. In cases where there is no matching sibling for a sick child, we also support unrelated donor searches for patients.”

“Our objective, in collaboration with Rotary District 3291, is to enhance awareness about blood stem cell donation amongst various sections of the society,” he added.

Rtn Deepak Agarwal, President, Rotary Club of Calcutta Visionaries, said, “It was surprising to see such lack of awareness on such an important issue. We decided that it was the need of the hour.  We firmly believe that if we ignite the spark within us, we can look beyond ourselves and give someone a second chance at life. There is nothing more extraordinary than the act of saving a life. As an organisation, 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.”

Rtn Ajay Jajodia, Event chair, Rotary Club of Calcutta Visionaries, said, “I urge the youth specially, to understand the importance of Blood Stem Cells in saving lives, and come forward and register themselves as potential donors. After all, they will carry the torch a long way.”

"We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Rotary District 3291 and its devoted members for their invaluable assistance in coordinating this registration drive. DKMS-BMST remains dedicated to conducting multiple awareness and registration campaigns in collaboration with esteemed clubs like the Rotary Club of Calcutta Visionaries, with a special emphasis on engaging the younger generation. Their ongoing participation in the registry significantly enhances the chances of finding matching donors for patients, who are in desperate need,” added Patrick Paul, CEO of DKMS-BMST.

To register as a potential stem cell donor, you must be a healthy Indian adult between 18 and 55. When you are ready to register, all you need to do is complete a consent form and swab the inside of your cheeks to collect your tissue cells. Your tissue sample is then sent to the lab to be analyzed for your HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) and listed anonymously on the international search platform for matching stem cell donors.

Today, thousands of Indian patients are waiting for their matching stem cell donor to undergo a lifesaving stem cell transplantation. Their situation can only be changed by recruiting many potential blood stem cell donors from India. If you’re eligible, take the first step to register as a blood stem cell donor by ordering your home swab kit at

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