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Story #31 of 50 days, 50 Stories Campaign
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In June and July, the Chennai team managed to do two collections. Both the donors were counselled before the pandemic in a different circumstance. Muthukumar,  a  young man registered with  DATRI in 2016. He lives in a small town 75 km away from  Erode.  We managed to arrange his travel for the health check-up before the  COVID situation and his collection was planned for the same month. After the 1st wave of COVID cases increasing in Chennai with an average case of 2000-4000+ cases every day and lock-down across the country, we got stuck  The COVID 19 pandemic was an extremely challenging situation as the rules changed multiple times and frequently. Also, the state-level rules were different from the central government rules and it kept the team on its toes to ensure all documentation was completed for any movement of the team or the donor. Added to this was the awareness that while we were counseling the donor and his family as the patient’s condition was also getting worse day by day.

Medical reports have a validity of 30 days, due to complete lockdown and the postponement of collection the health check-up validity expire and had to repeat the tests again. . It was a really tough time finding an accredited lab that does the specialized tests close to the donor’s location to minimize travel. The team did their research and the repeat tests were managed after the rescheduled collection date. 

The next challenge was bringing the donor to  Chennai for the mobilization injections and the actual collection of the blood stem cells, as there was no public transport available because of lockdown.

The donor was also a little hesitant to travel by road car for 500km. So again the team evaluated all options and finally mutually decided the donor would travel to Coimbatore from his hometown and then take a connecting flight to Chennai. A Safety kit comprising of sanitizer, face shield, gloves, masks, and wet wipes was also given to the donor for his safety.

 His family members were very nervous but sent their son only because of the trust they had in DATRI. The donor agreed to stay in Chennai for 5 days till his collection was completed, as there was no option in managing the GCSF in his hometown.

I promised to take care of him and be in regular touch to ensure his comfort. All his travel details and e-pass were obtained and the donor finally made his travel from his hometown to Chennai and stayed in Chennai for  5  days. 

Now that we had completed the logistical challenge of getting the donor to Chennai, we focussed on the next leg – transporting the product to  Mumbai.  The only logical way was a flight but with limited options and there were no direct flights.  There were no direct flights available and we had to sort out for the least layoff time as the product had to be delivered on an urgent basis. Backup options and e-pass were also planned in case of last-minute flight cancellations.  Finally,  the product reached TC safely and in good condition.

The 2nd collection had a different set of challenges to overcome 😊

Venkatesh a  young man registered with DATRI in 2018. He was a match for a 3  yr. a kid suffering from  AML.  When he was counseled he was a little nervous and hesitant to go ahead.  After multiple attempts to reach him,  I  finally got a  chance to meet and talk to him.  He was a little hesitant as he was newly married and his wife was also nervous. After counseling, he finally agreed and CT was planned before  COVID  19. 

After  COVID  situation everything changed.  Again we had a lot of discussions initiate the health check-up. The donor was accompanied by his wife for the health check-up and all queries were clarified and the collection date was confirmed. 

COVID tests were done for the donor at regular intervals to make sure he and the patient are safe. Meanwhile, the State government again imposed 144, during the GCSF time so we struggled to get the e-pass. Special permission was obtained so that the GCSF and collection were managed successfully. The product was transported by road to the TC, since all the special documents like e-pass were obtained prior. It was really a  tough time in managing the donor,  his family,  the patient situation, COVID fear, e-pass, logistics, hospital visit, food, safety.

But the final output of witnessing the smile and happiness of the kids and their families after the successful transplant was irreplaceable. In situations like this, we also understand the meaning of “Why we do and what we do” better. So how many hurdles we  might  face,  we  will  overcome  everything  for  our  lifesaving  cause

About DATRI:

DATRI is a Not-for-Profit organization founded in 2009 with a mission to save lives of those suffering from life-threatening Fatal blood disorders like Blood Cancer, Thalassemia, Leukemia, Aplastic Anemia, Sickle Cell Anaemia, etc.

DATRI is registered with the Government of India as a Section 8 organization, and all monetary contributions towards DATRI are subject to 80G exemptions

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About the Author:

Krishnan has completed his bachelor’s degree and Pursuing his Masters in NGO management and Business Administration. He has hands on experience in handling donors, Crisis management and hospital relations which plays a vital role in Blood Stem cell Collections. He is associated with DATRI for more than 6 years. He has been working as Manager – Hospital Relations with various Hospitals. He has a deeper understanding of DATRI’s Vision and Mission and works passionately to achieve the organizational goals.

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