May 7, 2017

Founders’ Speak

Dr. Vimarsh Raina, Founder

A young boy suffering from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) also called as Blood & Bone Marrow Cancer came to Medanta- The Medicity for treatment. The treating physician suggested blood stem cell transplant as the only solution. The patient required a Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) matched donor for further treatment. Inability to find the genetic match within the family, took them to international registries working towards the development of voluntary stem cell donor database.  Further inability to find Matched Unrelated Donor (MUD) in international registries left the family with no other alternative. Sad and angry with the prevailing conditions, the boy’s father questioned the health care system of India. The challenge, the urgency and the necessity to develop voluntary stem cells donor database got crafted into the mission to create the world’s largest registry and provide a matched unrelated donor to each one in need.

Unfortunately, the young child died but his death paved the way for the establishment of the stem cell registry, an initiative of Safe Blood Organization.

Kapil Gupta, Co-Founder 

Sometimes small incidents give a new direction to life. A similar magical incident caught my attention of the innocence and helplessness of a young man who was struggling to find blood donors to treat his mouth cancer. I saw this boy in a hospital where I was accompanying my father in law for his chemotherapy sessions. In the city of strangers, he was searching for someone to gift him the blood for his treatment. The gap in blood donation system troubled me for nights before I shared this with Dr. Vimarsh Raina. We donated blood for that young man but were not able to trace him ever again. I still don’t know whether he survived or returned to his native place. But the discussion around him gave birth to Safe Blood Organization (SBO). SBO completed 18 years of successfully addressing the timely need of blood. Today when I look back, I realize that stem cell donation holds the same position in society that once blood donation held. A regular practice now was a big deal then. Four years back when Dr Raina narrated the story of Arjanveer, the same tug rushed through my mind and heart. I imagined that same young man has come again in my life but now as Arjanveer. We then prepared ourselves to fight our next battle that is making stem cell donation a common practice and creating the largest stem cell donors registry in Asia.

Dr Aseem Tiwari, Co-Founder 

Caught up in the web of life, attending patients, fulfilling personal and professional commitments, I never directed my thoughts towards the much needed voluntary stem cell donor database. Once in Dr. Vimarsh Raina’s office we met Arjanveer’s father and understood that instead of lamenting on lack of registry, we need to get our act together and build one – ‘Let’s do it’. It began as a project for writing grants to a government agency. However, we soon realized that it may take forever to get access to a government grant. We began on our own gradually constructing an Indian registry; initially with just one employee on board; with a hope that someday we would be a donor ourselves; or if not that lucky, at least facilitate a transplant through one of our donors from our Indian database!