How to save a life

Entrepreneur Amit Gupta, founder of Photojojo, was recently diagnosed with leukemia and is in need of a bone marrow transplant.

He first blogged about his diagnosis last week:

Two weeks ago I got a call from my doctor, who I’d gone to see the day before because I’d been feeling worn out and was losing weight, and wasn’t sure why.

He was brief: “Amit, you’ve got Acute Leukemia. You need to enter treatment right away.”

I was terrified. I packed a backpack full of clothes, went to the hospital as he’d instructed, and had transfusions through the night to allow me to take a flight home at 7am the next day. I Googled acute leukemia as I lay in my hospital bed, learning that if it hadn’t been caught, I’d have died within weeks.

I have a couple more months of chemo to go, then the next step is a bone marrow transplant. As Jay and Tony describe below, minorities are severely underrepresented in the bone marrow pool, and I need help.

Amit’s not the only South Asian who is waiting for a match. Dr. Anand Patel, a father of three based in Florida, also recently received a leukemia diagnosis. His family and friends have been organizing bone marrow drives across the country. You can learn more about these drives on Anand’s Facebook page.

I’ve written before in this space about the under-representation of South Asians in the National Bone Marrow Registry. A South Asian patient in need of a bone marrow transplant currently only has a 1 in 20,000 chance of finding a match.

We as a community can do much better.  A simple cheek swab is all that is required to enter the marrow registry. More details about what happens if you are a match can be found here.

Interested in entering the registry?

Those in New York City can attend the Brown Bones Benefit Party on Oct 14. Volunteers will have provide all of the necessary paperwork and cheek swab tests.

You can also order a kit and do the cheek swab test at home. Visit Marrow.org to get a kit through Be the Match.

I also think it’s important for potential donors to be certain that they are willing to help. According to the Anand’s Battle for Leukemia Facebook page “only 1.8% of the National Registry is made up of South Asians, and of that half of them decide not to go through with donating.” That statistic sounds heartbreaking for everyone involved. Don’t let that be you.

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2 thoughts on “How to save a life

  1. Jitu says:

    Yes, I agree. we had done multiple Bone Marrow Drive for Anand, it is heart breaking and sad that in event of five thousand people we found hardly 30 people to register. it was event such a big as Navratri, where huge South Asian crowd is there. But we found no one had time to take a look at his flyer or time to listen to a plea made by family during bone marrow drive to register on site table set up for registration. We really need to bring awareness to our Indian community regarding need of Bone Marrow donation, as well as proper information regarding bone marrow donation to general public. Bone Marrow we held during Janmasthami in Atlanta, during Navratri at Gujarati Samaj, Shakti Mandir, Umiya Mandir, and Global Mall, different states. Though, some areas there were a success.
    But during Navratri it was huge disappointment. Another very important things we need to bring awareness is that when someone register please go through with it. Because during our drives we came across young woman who was awaiting transplant out of five matches four said no, it was heart breaking, and devastating for a family that now Life of their daughter was hanging in one person’s answer. Luckily for her the last person said yes, she went through the transplant. It is also, important to mention here that when you register you must be committed to donation unless, your health status has changed.

  2. Arvind Patel MD

    Leukemia among Indian population is becoming more and more common.Since Dr. Anand Patel age 37 years was dignosed having Leukemia we found at least 7 to 9 new Indian adults and children were dignosed with this disease with high mortality with out proper bonemarrow donor.Recently for unknown reason Leukimia among Indian communuty is increasing.To day is Anand and Mr Amit Gupta tomarrow it could be you or any of your relative may come across this problem.Our community need to wake up and start participating in registring for bone marrow donation.Giving life to some body is the biggest blessing from God instead of just going to temple asking God to forgive our wrong doing.Now a days Donating bone marrow is very simple procedure first youhave to register with Bone marrow organization and in case you match Doctors would run 2 or 3 simple blood test and if you are perfect match than a Doctor will give you one injection which is not harmfull to you in any way, it increses your White blood count than on the day of Donation a Doctor would draw blood from your body via small needle attached to your vein this blood goes through a special machine takes out needed white blood cell and put rest of your blood back in your body you loose nothing but some extra white blood cell which your body produced after getting injection.You saved a life received best” Punya”better than any other praying .(90 %) of peoples in Germany between age 17 to 60 are registered bone marrow donors.If they move one place to other first thing they do is to inform Bone marrow organization about their new address.

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