Story #3 of 50 days, 50 Stories Campaign
Koteeswaran, Age:23, Student and Retail Leader, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

hadn’t quite recovered from typhoid fever before he found out

To put it “lightly,” Koteeswaran is a skinny man. And also, perhaps one of the most hardworking people you will ever meet. Quiet, shy, and unassuming, his countenance betrays no excess pride in all that he has achieved–and he has gained a lot for himself. The youngest of six children in a family of rice and sugarcane farmers from Viluppuram district, Tamilnadu – South India, his average day goes like this: he wakes early and heads to college where he is currently pursuing his B.Ed. Classes end at 1 pm. Post this, he gobbles up a quick lunch and makes a beeline for his shift at the Big Bazaar in T.Nagar, Chennai, where he works as a Retail Team Leader.

He holds a bachelor’s in Zoology from Nandanam Arts and Science College Chennai and a Master’s in Biological Sciences. He is the only member of his family to be educated. “I had the self-confidence to push myself to study hard because I’ve always loved learning. I didn’t want to be a farmer, so I moved to Chennai 7 years ago to seek my fortunes in the city. Biology has been my favorite subject since school, and I love everything about it. I want to teach it someday.” Koteeswaran never had a role model in his family, so he had to push himself to higher education with his power of will alone. And this willpower would come in handy for him when it was time to donate.

Being a donor was not as smooth for Koteeswaran as it is for most others. Three months before receiving the news that he was required as a donor, he had suffered a severe attack of typhoid fever. The disease took a toll on his already frail body, and his weight plunged to 40 kilograms for his height of 167 centimeters. His match was a six-year-old child with blood cancer, the treatment of which was urgent. Immediately, he came down to the DATRI office to find out more. He had no qualms about going ahead. Enter the roadblock. Koteeswaran’s weight was far too low, and the donation could potentially backfire if something weren’t done to bring it up to the minimum. On top of that, he had a vitamin B12 deficiency which had to be corrected before he could even be considered safe for his beneficiary.

For Koteeswaran, no was not an option. “Thilaga mam from DATRI had told me that I was the only hope.” He and DATRI chose to give it 100%. They then commenced a big project: to get him back to good health in time for his Blood Stem Cell Donation a month later. “DATRI told me to take more fruits and vegetables leading up to the donation and provided me with Ensure powder and vitamin supplements. With this effort, I gained 8 kilograms in one month.” Stunning proof of what can happen when a person with good intentions puts his mind to something. Before the donation began, DATRI’s team had mentally prepared Koteeswaran for minor aches and pains that usually come up for people during their injections. However, he was pleasantly surprised to find that mercifully, the “side effects” for him were nil. “It’s like all I did was lie in bed and watched TV in the Apollo Hospital room.

The doctor was so nice, too.” “I told my parents one year after my Unrelated Blood Stem Cell Donation, as I didn’t want them to be scared because they don’t understand these things much. When my parents found out, they shrugged it off, thinking it was just a blood donation. I knew that they wouldn’t get it. Most importantly, I trusted that nothing would happen to me during my donation. All my classmates, including my close friends, had registered along with me, and they supported me. Two of my tutors came to see me too.”  the credits go to DATRI’s coordinator Krishna who made the process smooth and easy. “He was along with me throughout the process, making me laugh and keeping my spirits up.” He refers to Krishna as his anna or older brother, and three years on, they are still in touch. 

Three years on, Koteeswaran is joyous when he recalls his experience. “Initially, I was a bit worried about not being allowed to meet my beneficiary and see how the child was doing, but now I’ve accepted it, and I am simply glad I could help.”

You can also become someone’s lifesaver like Mr. Koteeswaran. All you have to do is register with DATRI and become a Blood Stem Cell Donor.

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, Leukaemia, Aplastic Anaemia, 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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