Overwhelming response to marrow donation plea

Hordes of people turned up on the first of a two-day mercy mission to find a potential bone marrow match for a Dubai resident battling a rare blood cancer.


Asma Ali Zain

Published: Sat 23 Feb 2013, 9:41 AM

Last updated: Sun 28 Nov 2021, 3:20 PM

Family and friends of 38-year-old Indian national Nimesh Joshi launched a two-day drive this weekend to collect as many bone marrow matches as possible, to help save his life.

Nimesh is being treated in Los Angeles and has already undergone two chemotherapy sessions.

During a separate corporate drive which began on Thursday, at least 200 cheek swabs containing DNA cells that could be a potential match with Nimesh’s were collected, said his childhood buddy Vicky Bageria, who is spearheading the drive. The corporate drive, being held at Oasis Centre, has been extended by a few days, Bageria said.

“We have seen a tremendous response today,” he said adding that exact numbers would be tallied at a later stage. With the numbers of bone marrow samples, Bageria said it was hoped a bank could be started to help others in a similar boat in the future.

“We can’t say that a certain number of people will be enough, though 10,000 is good enough to start a donor bank with,” he added.

The collected samples will be shipped to the US where doctors will test for a 100 per cent match. In case a match is found from the UAE, the donor will be flown to the US on a paid trip, said the family.

“We want more samples so that we can come up with a match before Nimesh undergoes his third (round of) chemotherapy,” Bageria said. Nimesh has 30 days to find a match before he can undergo another round of chemotherapy. Donors on Friday underwent a 30-second-long painless cheek swab done using a cotton bud. “This is a crucial time for us,” said Bageria. A resident of Dubai, Joshi had been undergoing treatment for an enlarged spleen in a Mumbai hospital in November 2012 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer called Hepatosplenic T-Cell Lymphoma.

A hale and hearty father of a seven-year-old, Joshi was devastated when he was told he had to undergo aggressive chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant to kill the cancer. “I want to continue to be a father to my son,” Joshi is quoted as saying on a flyer printed for the drive. His only sibling Chinmay Joshi, parents and other relatives are not a match. Gender and blood group are not relevant while donating bone marrow. Since marrow is inherited genetically, Joshi’s best chance of finding a match will be from the same ethnic group — in Joshi’s case, a person of South Asian descent.

ldquo;I was hesitant before coming here because I thought the procedure would be painful,” said Mohan, an Indian national from Sharjah who turned up along with his family to donate. “But I am glad I came and contributed to this cause.”

Once a match is found, healthy cells can either be harvested from the hip bone of the donor or simply through a blood donation — all within hours. Volunteers will have to pay Dh180 for the testing kit but in case payments can’t be made, the family will bear the cost or seek sponsorship.

The cheek swabs will be carried out by a representative from Indian NGO DATRI that helps organise such drives and is creating a database of potential donors. People can go to provide a sample today at the Sindhi Ceremonial Hall in Bur Dubai, from 10am to 2pm, and at the India Club from 4pm to 8pm.

Fast facts

What is bone marrow transplantation?

Bone marrow transplantation involves extracting bone marrow containing normal stem cells from a healthy donor and transferring it to a recipient whose body cannot produce proper quantities of normal blood cells.

What is the procedure for donating?

A donor’s bone marrow cells are harvested by giving general or regional anesthesia using a surgical process with no pain during the process. The donor remains at the hospital for 24-48 hours and can resume normal activities within a few days.

Another method is to draw blood from a vein from one arm and is passed through a machine that removes the blood-forming cells. Rest of the blood is returned through a vein into the other arm. The procedure takes approximately 4-6 hours.Information courtesy DATRI


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