Braving through the pandemic, nothing could stop Muthukumar from saving a life

Sept. 20, 2020, 3:17 p.m.

By:Reshma Jain

While all of us remained locked at home due to the pandemic, there were a few others like Muthukumar who went an extra mile to save the life of a fellow being. To mark the World Marrow Donor Day (WMDD) which falls on September 19 this year, Socio Story in collaboration with DATRI brings to you the story of Muthukumar, a saviour during the pandemic crisis.

Overshadowed by the outbreak of COVID-19 throughout the globe, the impact on the patients suffering from blood cancer and blood disorders cannot be imagined. While the requirement of stem-cell donors remains the same, the donations have reduced drastically due to the fear of the pandemic. Adding to the woes, the lockdown had affected the process of facilitating blood stem cell transplants and transporting blood stem cells across state borders to reach the patient in hospitals.

However, neither did the pandemic nor did the risk to travel deter Muthukumar’s purpose to save a life. Muthukumar who resides in a small town 75 kms away from Erode in Tamil Nadu had registered himself with DATRI in 2016. Just before the Covid-19 crisis, he was found to be a match for a patient suffering from Leukemia in one of the hospitals in Chennai. Hence, the team at DATRI reached out to him. But, the pandemic situation in Chennai was critical as it registered an average of 2,000-4,000 cases every day. Moreover, due to the lockdown imposed in the country, the DATRI team were hopeless about the donation.

On one hand, the condition of the patient was getting worse day by day and on the other hand, it was challenging to convince the donor and his family. It was difficult to find an accredited lab near the donors location which does the specialization tests as per the protocol. However, the DATRI team managed to complete the tests after the donation date was rescheduled.

Since there was no access to public transport during the lockdown, the next challenge was to bring the donor to Chennai for the GCSF (Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor) and for the stem cell donation. Meanwhile, the DATRI team was chalking out ways to ensure Muthukumar reaches Chennai. So, a car travel from his town to Coimbatore airport and Coimbatore airport to Chennai by flight was arranged by the team.

Due to lack of facilities in his hometown, the donor agreed to stay in Chennai for five days for his GCSF. His generosity and commitment for the cause made him travel from a green zone to a red zone for helping the blood cancer patient. After the GCSF process, the stem cell donation was successful and the transplantation was performed on the patient.

The main objective of WMDD is to thank all donors across the globe. They include unrelated donors, family donors, cord blood donors, donors who already have donated, and donors who are on the global registry waiting to donate. The secondary objective is to raise awareness among the general public about being a stem cell donor and the impact of blood stem cell transplantation on patients’ lives. 

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