Young Women Take Charge as Lifesavers – Asmita and Sowmiya’s Inspiring Story

In a bid to increase awareness about blood stem cell donation, DKMS BMST Foundation India, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the fight against blood cancer, celebrates young women who recently donated stem cells. Recognising women blood stem cell donors ensures more participation of young people in the stem cell registry, increasing the chances of finding a match and ultimately saving lives.

(L-R) Donors Asmita and Sowmiya

Asmita, a 26-year-old senior analyst from Delhi, is an inspiring example of a woman committed to making a difference through stem cell donation. In August 2021, Asmita registered as a potential blood stem cell donor in India. “I registered with DKMS-BMST and gave my swab sample for HLA testing to be added to their potential donors list. Incidentally, within 4-5 months of registration, I got a call that I had matched with a patient who needed a stem cell transplant.I realised that something so simple could potentially save someone’s life,” says Asmita.

Another instance of commitment was shown by a stem cell donor Sowmiya, who is a 28-year-old medical professional from Tamil Nadu. In March 2021, Sowmiya was matched with a patient. However, due to family concerns and COVID-19, she could not come forward for donation. Nevertheless, she was informed that she was the only person in the world whose HLA (tissue type) matched to a blood cancer patient who desperately needed a stem cell transplant to survive. “The idea of being a lifesaving match for a patient was very captivating,” said Sowmiya. The patient could not find any other match and Sowmiya agreed to give a second chance at life to this patient after two years.

Something so simple could potentially save someone’s life,” Sowmiya said. “I realized that the chances of finding a perfectly matched HLA type are one in a million, and I was ready and willing to be a donor,” she added.

Although both Asmita and Sowmiya had some concerns and felt a bit anxious owing to reasons pertaining to their personal health and families, the DKMS-BMST team addressed all their worries. They conducted various tests to ensure their respective health and well-being for donation, keeping both the women informed at every step and explaining the process thoroughly.

Indians are underrepresented in the global donor pool. Increasing female participation can inspire others to follow. Their actions help create a more diverse and inclusive registry, boosting the chances of finding a match for anyone in need. “We hope these donor’s stories encourage more youngsters to take this simple yet potentially life-changing step. Together, we can build a strong and diverse stem cell registry offering hope to patients in need,” said Patrick Paul, CEO, DKMS-BMST.

Every 5 minutes, someone in India is diagnosed with blood cancer or a blood disorder like Thalassemia or Aplastic Anemia. Many such patients are children and young people whose only chance of recovery is a stem cell transplant. For a successful stem cell transplant, the patient needs to find an HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) matched donor. Most often, the majority of the patients are unable to receive a transplant due to the unavailability of a matching blood stem cell donor. With very few individuals signing up as potential blood stem cell donors, finding a matching donor is difficult. This increases the need for more people of Indian ethnicity to register themselves.

DKMS-BMST urges all eligible people to consider registering as stem cell donors. The process is simple and takes five minutes of your time.

To register as a potential stem cell donor, you must be a healthy Indian adult between 18 and 55 years of age. 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 and listed anonymously on the international search platform for matching stem cell donors. If you’re eligible, take the first step to register as a blood stem cell donor by ordering your home swab kit at www.dkms-bmst.org/register

So far, DKMS-BMST India has registered over 1,00,000 stem cell donors in the country, out of which 35,000 are women. DKMS-BMST has facilitated 110 stem cell transplants, out of which 14 donations have been made by matched women donors, significantly impacting the fight against blood cancer. The organisation aims to register more donors in India to give as many patients as possible a second chance at life.

About DKMS BMST Foundation India

DKMS BMST Foundation India is a non-profit organization dedicated to the fight against blood cancer and other blood disorders, such as thalassemia and aplastic anemia. They aim to improve the situation of patients suffering from blood cancer and other blood disorders in India and throughout the world by raising awareness about blood stem cell transplantation and registering potential blood stem cell donors. DKMS-BMST is a joint venture of two reputed non-profit organizations: BMST (Bangalore Medical Services Trust) and DKMS, one of the worlds largest international blood stem cell donor centres.

For more information, please visit www.dkms-bmst.org

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