At the age of 18, while I was still in school, I made a decision that has been the best one of my life so far-and also a life-saving one. I was in the 12th standard at The Cambrian School in Ayodhya when a camp was organized by DATRI-India’s largest Blood Stem Cell Registry. They had set up a stall urging visitors to register as potential donors who could donate their blood stem cells as a possible cure for those suffering from blood cancer and blood disorders.
Moved by the thought of saving a life, I along with my friends, visited the DATRI stall and listened to them about blood stem cell donation and how one could save a life and make a difference. I felt this was an opportunity to do something meaningful for someone facing an uncertain future, and my parents who were with me shared the same sentiment. I was the only one from my school to register with DATRI. I eagerly looked forward to the day when I would be a match for someone and would have the chance to give the gift of life.
As time passed, I gradually forgot about it and while pursuing my second year at Christ College in Bangalore, I received a call from DATRI that I was a matching donor for a child suffering from Thalassemia Major. The request was to donate my blood stem cells. I was super excited and it was like god was leading me to help someone really in need. I immediately gave my consent and asked them to work on the dates for the procedure. DATRI organized all the required lab tests and I went through them nonchalantly.
It was during my tests, the doctors revealed that I had only one kidney. It came as a shock to me and even after my parents knew it since before they were hesitant to proceed with the donation. However, after the doctors counseled us and assured us that it would not have any impact on my health. We were convinced and I decided to go ahead with the donation.
Soon after, I was given the donation date, which happened to be just two days before a planned trek to Brahmatal in Uttrakhand. My parents were concerned that it was too close and that the donation could weaken my body, potentially affecting my ability to go on a trek. However, I remained determined and I prevailed on them that I could manage it and didn’t want to cancel the donation.
The donation procedure went smoothly. I live in a joint family and all of them rallied behind me especially my parents who felt so proud of me. I left for my trekking expedition just two days after the donation. Later I was informed by DATRI that the transplant had been successful and the patient was recovering.
The joy of giving a life to someone is indescribable. I had always felt that I wanted to do something worthwhile in my life and this experience was a dream come true. I am eagerly waiting to meet my little sister or brother and share some moments of togetherness.
I am still young, I am ready and willing to be a lifesaver again and gift another life.
DATRI are you listening?
DATRI Blood Stem Cell Donors Registry, a not-for-profit organisation, has facilitated more than 1123 Blood Stem Cell Donations to date. The journey began in the year 2009 to find unrelated matched donors for patients with leukaemia, Thalassemia or blood disorders whose life is dependent on an unrelated donor to survive. DATRI, India’s largest Blood Stem Cell Donors Registry, has more than 5,11,413 donors registered. DATRI is working towards creating a wide and diverse database of potential Blood Stem Cell Donors that can be accessed by any patient living anywhere in the world in need of a Blood Stem Cell Donation. Any healthy individual between the age of 18 years to 50 years can register as a blood stem cell donor with DATRI and potentially become a lifesaver when they’re found to be a match for a fatal blood disorder patient.
About the Author:
Sahaj Chawla is pursuing his BBA from Christ University, Bangalore. He loves bike riding and listening to music. Sahaj donated his blood stem cells for a Thalassemia Major child in 2022.