More awareness needed on stem cell donation: expert – The Hindu

By daniellenierenberg

Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), popularly known as bone marrow transplantation (BMT), is a curative modality for a number of benign and malignant blood disorders, said Dr. Murali Krishna Voonna, surgical oncologist and managing director of Mahatma Gandhi Cancer Hospital and Research Institute.

Speaking at an awareness programme on stem cell donation organised here by the hospital, in association with Datri Blood Stem Cell Donor Registry, he said hematopoietic stem cells are immature cells that can develop into all types of blood cellswhite blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. They are found in the peripheral blood and bone marrow.

A sizeable population are diagnosed to have benign diseases such as thalassemia major, sickle cell anaemia and aplastic anaemia, and the HSCT is among the efficient curative measures. Acute leukaemia and other blood cancers also need this procedure, he said.

Highlighting that stem cell donation and a registry are vital, Dr. Muralikrishna explained for a successful hematopoietic stem cell transplant, the patients genetic typing (HLA typing) needs a close match with that of the donor. Every patient has 25% chance of finding a match within the family, he said.

Dr. Muralikrishna stated that in such cases, finding a donor is a pressing need. There are over 80 donor registries and more than 30 million registered donors across the globe, with a very few Indians being a part of it. This reduces the chances of finding a possible match for patients of Indian origin. Patients are more likely to find a possible match within their ethnicity, which means people sharing the same cultural linguistic and biological traits, he explained.

The problem can be solved if the donors enroll themselves with a registry which will store the stem cell details and the details. Pledging to donate stem cells is easy like swabbing the inner-cheek. The donors are contacted if patients have HLA matching, he said, adding that the stem cell donation was carried out only when a match was found for a patient, not when one pledge to donate.

A blood stem cell collection centre was inaugurated at the hospitals premises on the occasion. Earlier, to avail of such service and for HLA-typing, one has travel to Hyderabad and Chennai, Dr. Muralikrishna said.

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More awareness needed on stem cell donation: expert - The Hindu

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