I’m Meera Krishna from Alappey, Kerala an Engineering student in SCMS School of Engineering and Technology, Angamaly in Kerala. I recently had an opportunity to become a Blood Stem Cell Donor. It was a life changing experience.
The First Step
On December 2017, when I was in 2nd year of Engineering, I took part in 7 day NSS camp, which gave me an opportunity to become a Potential Blood Stem Cell Donor in a donor registration drive conducted by the DATRI Blood Stem Cell Donors Registry. The registration process was very simple, all I had to do is to scrape my inner cheek with a cotton bud and fill up the registration form. HLA Typing test will be carried out from these samples which is the identification markers for Blood Stem Cell Donation, like we check Blood Groups for Blood Donation.
The Life Saving Match
Unexpectedly, almost after two years, in September 2019 I received a call from the DATRI informing that I was recognized as a potential match to a 20-year-old boy who was suffering from leukemia. All I know was it’s a male, his age and diagnosis. And I was the one and only person who could save him was me and there was no other backup for him. After hearing this I was so thrilled for the news that I wanted to get started almost right away.
Journey to Gift A Life
They gave me enough time to read details and ask permission from my parents. Though, I was ready for the donation process it was not the same with my parents. Initially it was very difficult to convince my parents especially my mother, which was very obvious. They only gave a green signal after consulting many doctors as well as previous donors.
On my confirmation to donate, Miss Athulya from DATRI visited me at my campus very next day to collect Blood Samples for verifying my match. I learned more about this donation process then. I came to know that there are 2 types of donation methods. One method is called Bone Marrow Harvest, where Blood Stem Cells will be directly taken from the marrow using a needle after a general anesthesia. Bone Marrow Donation is a 1-hour procedure
which is now rarely in need.
The second method is called Peripheral Blood Stem Cell(PBSC) Donation which is simple as that of a Blood Platelet Donation. This is a 5-day outpatient procedure where donor is given one injection each day for 4 days to bring excess stem cells to Blood. On 5th day after 5th Injection these extra stem cells are separated from blood.
Once my match is verified the next step was to do a complete health checkup to ensure my safety. All my checkup was done in AIMS, Cochin, there I and my family met a senior Hematologist who counselled us again about the pros and cons about donation. Since I was staying at the hostel, DATRI team arranged separate travel arrangements for me and for my parents who travelled from our hometown in Alleppey. The entire process was planned on my schedule and at my convenience, even though I knew there was someone waiting for my cells on the other side.
Once we received all the reports, after ensuring everything normal, donation date was fixed and my 5-day injection course started. DATRI technician Mr. Amal came to my college hostel for administrating injections in the mornings before I go for classes. On the 2nd day of injections I had some body aches, but I was already informed by Athulya that it’s common and temporary, and it will go by taking a paracetamol tablet. I was also informed to eat good food, drink plenty of water. They also told me to sleep very well, which actually made me very happy 😁. On 4th day of injections, in the evening after my classes I travelled to Cochin accompanied by Athulya for getting admitted for donation. My family also join at AIMS, Cochin for the same. Usually Peripheral Blood Stem Cell donation is a daycare procedure, but in my case I had no good veins in my hands so they had to opt a femoral line (veins from legs) which needs a name sake hospitalization.
Finally, the day of donation has arrived, the 5th day on 16th October 2019, which is an unforgettable day in my life. Though I was very enthusiastic about the procedure, fear slowly started to creep in. But, my family and friends were always there with me to provide strength and support. A cannula was inserted on my thigh and the procedure started, which lasted for about 4 to 5 hours. Stem Cells were successfully separated from my blood while I was watching movie ‘Spadikam’ (A Malayalam Movie). I felt very much relieved after donation and I received a blood brother, though I know nothing about him, I pray for his speedy recovery and I want him to lead a long happy and healthy life. I wish to see him one day. As per registry rules, I can get to know his updates after completing a year of donation.
I am very much thankful to the DATRI Team for their constant support and hospitality, without which, this donation would be never made possible.
DATRI is a Not-for-Profit organization that was 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, Sicle Cell Anaemia etc.
DATRI is registered with Government of India as a Section 8 organization and all monetary contributions towards DATRI are subject to 80G exemptions
Tags: Blood Stem Cell Donation by Engineering Student | Blood Stem Cell Donation Experience | Female Blood Stem Cell Donor from Kerala | Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Donation
About the Author:
Meera Krishna, a graduate student in her final year of Engineering in Electronics and Communication. A 21 year old girl who was born in Mavelikara, Kerala. A part of her life was spent in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where she received her entire schooling, which helped her to develope and cultivate many of her talents. She is a girl with a strong support from family and friends.