Celebrating a transformative experience

Wednesday was the best day of Amit Mohite’s life. The 36-year-old got to meet the young man whose life he had helped save last year: through a blood stem cell donation. The meet, organised by DATRI, a blood stem cell donor registry, which facilitated the match, was held at the Cancer Institute, Adyar, where the transplant took place.

Paul Surya was only 17 when he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia. His family, who are from a village near Kaniyakumari, took him to doctors who advised them to go to Chennai for treatment. He was treated at the Cancer Institute, and needed regular blood transfusions, but doctors said the only hope of a cure was a blood stem cell transplant. Paul has three siblings — two sisters and a brother — but none of them were a match. He needed an unrelated donor.

In 2015, Amit Mohite, who works with a multi-national corporation in Bangalore, had signed up to become a blood stem cell donor after DATRI conducted an awareness programme at his office. A year later, he received a call and was told he was a match for a patient. After consulting with his family, Amit decided to donate. “I started my career in 2003 and have been promoted and received great feedback. But this experience will stay with me for my entire life. Given an opportunity, I’d like to do it again,” he said.

Paul thanked his donor and the doctors and nurses who were involved in his treatment. “I am back to normal now,” he said. He intends to go to college next year.

Huge demand

Model and Mr. India international 2017 Darasing Khurana, who is an ambassador for DATRI, urged people to register to donate. DATRI co-founder Raghu Rajagopal spoke of the huge unmet demand in India for blood stem cell donors. “In India, there are over 100,000 people with fatal blood disorders. Only 25% of people have a chance of finding a donor within their families,” he said.

Venkataraman Radhakrishnan, associate professor at the institute, spoke of the need for the government to focus on blood stem cell donations and encourage people to donate. Director T.G. Sagar and other doctors of the institute participated.

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