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Register To Become Bone Marrow Donor

Ranjani Saigal

It’s easy, quick, and painless!  Your 5 minutes could mean the difference between life and death for many South Asians suffering from leukemia.  Visit the SAMAR booth at the IMANE Charity Gala on Sunday May 14th at the Tsongas Arena Lowell, MA between 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm. 

Many of us have the potential to save a life with very little effort.  Attorney Trupti Patel from Boston registered herself as a potential donor. “I was very nervous about the registration. I asked my doctor about the procedure and he said it was completely harmless and very simple. That was very reassuring. Just one year after I registered I learnt that my own cousin had Leukemia. One never knows when and where it strikes. By registering today we may be helping someone in our own family tomorrow”

Vikram Patel’s donation helped Jay Patel. Jay received the donation when he was in his teens. Jay is on his way to Harvard Medical College and we will have Dr. Jay Patel soon! Thanks to Vikram.

Leukemia and other fatal blood disorders happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

The tragedy of leukemia is increased manifold in the South Asian community due to the fact that not many of us register.  What is even more tragic is that many who after registration are identified as potential donors refuse to donate. This happens because people have a lot of false conceptions about the procedure” says Vikram Singh who along with his wife Roop Jyot Kaur volunteers for an organization called SAMAR.

South Asian Marrow Association of Recruiters (SAMAR) serves patients diagnosed with leukemia and other fatal blood disorders from the South Asian community (people from India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, East Africa, Guyana, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies) and other minority groups who are in search of Blood Stem Cell /Marrow donors.

More than 20,000 transplants have been performed in the United States. To date there have been no reported long term adverse effects to any donor.

Leukemia is an equal opportunity disease. Scientists do not know what causes leukemia, but it usually proves fatal unless a matching donor is found.

Sadly, South Asians are the most underrepresented ethnicity in the national bone marrow registry while the numbers of South Asian cases are increasing. The odds of finding a match are 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 100,000. Large number of donors from the same race increases the patient’s chance of finding a match for a life-saving blood stem cell/marrow transplant

The lack of donors makes the life of people like 29 year old Parag Patel really tough. Married for less than three years he was shocked when his doctor told him in February 2006 that he had Lukemia. The only hope for him is to find a bone marrow donor. The chance of finding a match is highest amongst South Asian registered donors.

His friends have set up a website to seek help for Parag at http://www.hope4parag.com/.  “Parag is a friend, confidant, and a blessing to those whose lives he has touched. He’s the type that opens his heart and gives a hand to everyone and anyone.  Hence we call him ‘Balu’ - kind hearted, gentle and goofy” says the friend who helped setup the website.

“Cases like Parag depend greatly on receiving a donation of bone marrow. If only people in our community can register to become donors, we can bring so much hope for people like Parag. Donation saved a young Indian child of 13 who is now enrolled at the Havard Medical School” says Singh.

 Only healthy candidates are accepted and there are existing medical standards approved by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to protect the donor. Donors typically experience mild discomfort and tenderness in the area where the marrow was collected, but this discomfort usually lasts just a few days and does not generally prevent normal activity.

To learn more about what you can do to help visit http://www.samarinfo.org.



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Manisha and Parag

Leena a 28 year old mother

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