World Sickle Cell Day 2022: Stem Cell Transplant Only Curative Treatment For Sickle Cell Disease

In India, according to an ICMR study, about 20 per cent of children with sickle disease died by the age of two, and 30 per cent children with Sickle Cell Disease die before they reach adulthood.

Sickle cell has variance and only the severe form needs a stem cell transplant.
Sickle cell has variance and only the severe form needs a stem cell transplant.

Stem Cell Transplants: A Ray of Hope for Sickle Cell Disease Patients in India

Sickle cell disease, a genetic condition causing deformed red blood cells, poses a significant health risk in India. With around 2.5 million carriers of the sickle cell gene in the country, the incidence of the disease is especially high among tribal communities. Unfortunately, sickle cell disease is associated with a high mortality rate, particularly among children. However, recent advancements in medical science have shed light on the potential of stem cell transplants as a cure.

Promising Outcomes of Stem Cell Transplants

Stem cell transplants offer a ray of hope for individuals suffering from severe sickle cell disease. According to Dr. Biju George, a renowned expert in hematology at CMC Vellore, patients who undergo regular blood transfusions and receive a stem cell transplant have the best chances of survival and even a potential cure. The ideal donor for a successful transplant is a fully HLA-matched sibling, offering a 90-95% chance of cure, particularly in younger children. However, due to the underrepresentation of Indians in the global donor pool, finding suitable matches remains a significant challenge.

DKMS BMST Foundation India’s Mission

DKMS BMST Foundation India, a non-profit organization dedicated to combating blood disorders, including sickle cell disease, is making tremendous efforts to provide a second chance at life for affected individuals. Patrick Paul, CEO of DKMS BMST Foundation India, emphasizes the urgent need to make stem cell transplants more accessible in India. Misconceptions and a lack of awareness regarding blood stem cell donation have resulted in Indians being underrepresented in the global donor pool. To address this issue, the foundation focuses on enrolling potential donors, conducting HLA typing, and facilitating the entire process, from donor search to transplant.

Becoming a Potential Donor

To support this life-saving cause, individuals between the ages of 18 and 50 can register as potential blood stem cell donors through DKMS-BMST. The registration process is quick and straightforward. By visiting dkms-bmst.org/register and filling out an online form, donors will receive a DIY swab kit at home. After completing the consent form, a tissue sample can be collected from the inside of the cheeks using cotton swabs provided in the kit. Donors then send back their swab samples in the pre-paid envelope provided.

The Power to Save Lives

Every potential donor’s tissue type is analyzed, and their details are added to the global search for blood stem cell donors. If a suitable match is found, DKMS-BMST will contact the donor promptly. The stem cell collection process, known as Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Collection, is a safe and non-surgical outpatient procedure, similar to a blood donation. By highlighting the ease and impact of becoming a donor, we can encourage more individuals to join the fight against sickle cell disease and other blood disorders.

Stem cell transplants offer a glimmer of hope for individuals living with sickle cell disease in India. DKMS BMST Foundation India’s dedication to enrolling potential donors and raising awareness is crucial in improving the chances of finding suitable matches. By registering as a potential donor, you can play a vital role in saving lives. Visit dkms-bmst.org/register today to make a difference and provide a second chance at life for those in need.

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