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Sayli Rane, a 43-year-old healthcare clinical research professional from Mumbai, is celebrating a new lease on life thanks to the selfless act of a stranger. Today, Rane, a blood cancer survivor who battled leukaemia, met her stem cell donor, Satish Reddy, for the first time in an emotional meeting.

Satish Reddy, a 32-year-old software engineer from Vizag, registered as a stem cell donor with DKMS BMST Foundation India in July 2016. Remarkably, his unique genetic makeup proved to be a perfect match for Rane, offering her a chance to overcome leukemia. Reddy donated his blood stem cells in August 2021, a process that helped Sayli undergo a lifesaving stem cell transplant.

“Words cannot express my gratitude to Satish,” said Rane, visibly emotional. “His decision to become a donor gave me a second chance to live. Today, I get to meet my hero.”

Reddy, equally touched by the encounter, shared, “There’s no greater reward than knowing you’ve helped save a life. Meeting Sayli and seeing her well today makes everything worthwhile.”

Sayli’s transplant physicians Dr. Sandeep Shah and Dr. Sanket Shah, from Hoc Vedanta, Ahmedabad said, “Blood cancer includes diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma that involves the abnormal proliferation of blood cells, which take a toll on the body’s ability to function. Traditional methods of combatting blood cancer constitute of treatments like chemotherapy, which may not work for all patients. Hence, the need for alternative treatments like stem cell transplants has become the need of the hour. Blood stem cell transplant works by infusing healthy blood-forming stem cells into a patient’s body. These stem cells have the unique ability to renew themselves and differentiate into various blood cell types, rejuvenating the patient’s immune system and replacing damaged or cancerous cells. To make this process a success, the patient needs an HLA or tissue type matching donor from whom healthy stem cells can be sourced for the transplant”.

In India, where over 70,000 individuals succumb to blood cancer annually, constituting 8% of new cancer cases, a blood stem cell transplant from an HLA-matching donor is a crucial lifeline. In a stem cell transplantation, healthy blood stem cells from a matching donor are infused into the patient to help resume healthy blood production. The best stem cell transplant outcomes happen when a patient’s human leukocyte antigen (HLA) and the HLA of a potential donor match. This is much more complex than matching blood groups. About 30% of patients find an HLA-matched donor within the family; however, the rest 70 % of the patients, have to look for a “unrelated” donor with matched HLA.

Patrick Paul, CEO, DKMS BMST Foundation India, emphasized the critical shortage of potential blood stem cell donors in the country, “Every five minutes, a new case of blood cancer or a blood disorder, such as Thalassemia or Aplastic Anemia, is diagnosed in India. The availability of matching blood stem cell donors remains a significant challenge for Indian patients in need of life-saving transplants. Only 0.09% of Indians are registered as stem cell donors. This means the chances of an Indian patient finding a matching unrelated donor are one in a million. This leaves thousands of Indian patients on a waitlist for years as they cannot find donors, mostly due to the lack of Indian representation on the worldwide stem cell database.”

He further emphasizes, “To address this disparity and save more lives, it is crucial to register a larger number of potential stem cell donors from India. With a population of over 1.42 billion and a rising incidence of blood cancer and blood disorders, the need for Indian stem cell donors has never been greater.”  

This heart-warming tale highlights the critical role of stem cell donation in saving the lives of blood cancer patients. Stories like these inspire more individuals to register as potential donors and offer hope to those battling this life-threatening disease.

To register as a potential stem cell donor, you must be a healthy Indian adult between 18 and 55. 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 analysed for your HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) and listed anonymously on the international search platform for matching stem cell donors. If you’re eligible, register as a blood stem cell donor by ordering your home swab kit at

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