Angels do exist, believes Kozhikode-based businessman Sivaramakrishnan K V. Diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (RAEB 2-AML), a kind of blood cancer in 2014, Sivaramakrishnan got a new lease of life, thanks to a blood stem cell donor from Gujarat, Pravin Kumar Patel. “He was a God-given gift for us,” says Sivaramakrishnan, who found out he had blood cancer when he went in for tests to remove an inflamed gall bladder in January 2014. “When he agreed to donate his stem cells, it literally gave me a new lease of life.”
For Sivaramakrishnan, 2014 was a daunting year. After blood tests revealed he had cancer, he headed to Christian Medical College, Vellore, where the diagnosis was confirmed. “We wanted to know about the best treatment options available in Kerala itself, and they referred us to Dr Neeraj Sidharthan of the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), Kochi. It was a long course of chemotherapy treatment for Sivaramakrishnan. After his second course of chemotherapy, his blood count was not picking up as expected. This was when Dr Neeraj suggested getting blood stem cells from a donor. AIMS was registered with the Chennai-based DATRI Blood Stem Cell Donors Registry. Soon news came that Sivaramakrishnan had found the perfect match in Patel, who had registered as a donor with DATRI back in 2012.
For Patel too, it was a life changing moment. Though he had registered as a donor during an awareness drive at his office, when he was informed that he was a potential match, he was hesitant at first. But counselling by experts and family support gave him the courage to step forward and donate his blood stem cells.
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“The stem cells were transplanted to me over two days,” says Sivaramakrishnan. “What is interesting is that my blood group was O+ and the donor’s was B+. Now my blood group has become B+.”
According to the registry rules, the donor and recipient names are not revealed for a period of one year. After that time though, Sivaramakrishnan was keen to meet Patel. And they finally met at an event organised by DATRI in Kochi. The event was presided over by Sreejith IPS, IG of Cochin Range. “Actually meeting him was an emotional moment for me,” says Sivaramakrishnan, who believes that DATRI is doing a tremendous job in this field.
“I feel that awareness of blood stem cell donation is very low,” he says. “In fact, we did an awareness drive in my own office where we figured that one of my staff is a potential match for someone listed in the registry. However, his family is reluctant to let him become a donor. We must work hard to bring about a change in this mindset.” Sivaramakrishnan, who is now hale and hearty, is keen to spread the message about blood stem cell donation, which could save those affected by certain cancers as well as diseases like thalassemia and aplastic anaemia.
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