The DATRI donor drive will kick start on the 5th of July at Apollo Speciality Hospital from morning 9 am to 5 pm for donors who wish to register. This will then be sustained through all Apollo Blood Bank services with registration facilitated through the Apollo blood banks across the country. Anybody in the age group of 18-50, who is medically fit, can volunteer to register themselves by donating a sample of their cheek cells which is then screened and registered. When a patient in need of transplant approaches, the match donor is called to donate stem cells which are usually done as a peripheral blood donation. The entire process is carried out as an out-patient procedure in strict adherence to medical protocols, thus making it absolutely safe for the donor.
Commenting at the initiative, Mr. Raghu Rajagopal, CEO, DATRI said ""I am very happy that 5 children getting treated in Apollo could find a genetically matched unrelated donor from DATRI. We encourage more people to come forward and take the first step in saving a life by joining the registry. This is a simple process of understanding the procedure, filling up an application form, signing a consent form and giving a cheek cotton swab by rubbing against the inside of the cheek.""
Encouraging the initiative, Dr. PrathapC Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group said ""At Apollo we are constantly working towards the mission of bringing affordable healthcare of the highest standards to India. Unrelated stem cell transplantation in centers abroad costs over 500,000 US dollars and this can now be performed in India at a fraction of this cost, provided we have a strong database of informed donors. We are hopeful that this drive will help clear the apprehensions in the minds of people and encourage them to come forward, register themselves and follow through their commitment by helping those in need.""
Stem Cells have been used in the treatment of a number of blood related disorders such as leukemia or blood cancer and genetic blood disorders including thalassemia and immune deficiency. Ethnicity plays an important role in finding a match. However, only 25% of patients have a chance of finding a matched donor within the family. Additionally, given the lack of donors in our country, the odds of finding a match in International registries with over 20 million donors for an Indian is rather bleak as they are mostly Caucasian.
Apollo Speciality Hospital, Chennai is one of the few centers in India with facilities to search for a potential unrelated donor and offer transplantation. Also, Apollo Speciality Hospital was the first to help with safe collection of stem cells from a volunteer donor from DATRI. In fact, the hospital has been instrumental in performing 50 such procedures over the past few years thus offering a unique opportunity for patients to get cured.
Volunteer donors from D have been in DATRI in saving the lives of five children treated at Apollo who had an otherwise incurable blood cancer and genetic blood disorders like immune deficiency. DATRI has facilitated 31 blood stem cell donations across the country for patients in India and abroad. This experience has inspired the donation drive that can add to the 42,000 committed donors in the DATRI registry.