Meet Kiranmai who left a lucrative job to spread awareness on stem cell donation

Sept. 24, 2020, 5:57 p.m.

By: Reshma Jain

If you could offer hope- a chance at life- to someone dying from cancer, would you? Well, I think most of us would do the best possible. But here we bring to you one such example who not only saved a life by donating her stem cells but also left her corporate couch aside to support an organisation that works to save the blood cancer survivors.

Realizing that the beauty of life is life itself, giving life to a 4-year-old champ had nearly taken just a little time and true grit to save a life. Socio Story in collaboration with DATRI presents you the story of Kiranmai Srinija.

“Unlike every other donation in life, a stem cell donation has a special place in my heart. Ever since I have donated my stem cells, there is a special meaning that has added to my life. All it takes is a little time to save a precious life from a dangerous cancer,” shares Kiranmai from Visakhapatnam.

Reminiscing one of the days in 2018, Kiranmai, like every other long day at work, was rushing back home. When she was almost at the out gate, she suddenly realized that it was the last day of the camp being conducted by DATRI. This opportunity is not to be missed, she thought, and went back to the room where the camp was being conducted. The volunteer took her through the whole process and explained about the registration and donation requirements.

Without giving a second thought, Kiranmai took the swab test and got herself registered. This gave her an opportunity to learn more about the misconceptions about stem cell donation, on how many patients are actually in need of a transplant and how small is the bone marrow registry.

It was after two months of her swab test that she got a call from DATRI (a blood stem cell donor registry organisation) that she was found to be a match to a 4-year-old kid who was suffering from thalassemia.

“I was so excited to know more about the donation process and was eager to start the process right away. I heard a lot of suggestions on not to do something which seems to be new. But I believed that there is no proper awareness about stem cell donation in India though it was existing from the past ten years. Despite all the free bits of advice I received, I decided to proceed with the donation. I was asked to travel to Hyderabad for my initial health check-ups and later to Chennai to complete my donation process,” added the young Samaritan who was earlier working in a private bank.

Kiranmai stated, “My visit to the Basavatarakam Indo American Cancer Hospital and research institute for my master health check-up (one of the protocols before the donation, to make sure the donor is fit enough to donate) left me speechless. I never knew what cancer bravery was, until I saw those bald heads and strong faces who were battling cancer. However, I knew I am going to do the best thing in my life at that moment.”

After taking the GCSF (granulocyte colony-stimulating factor) shots for five days to enhance the production and to release more number of stem cells into the blood flow, Kiranmai underwent a PBSC (Peripheral blood stem cell) donation method in which the process of donation was similar to platelet donation through the apheresis method. “All I had to do was to lie on a bed and watch a Telugu flick called SYE,” she cheerfully says.

After a year, in October 2019, Kiranmai was lucky enough to meet little Kaviraj who battled Thalassemia. Her joy knew no bounds and her happiness had no words. “My mission towards the cause is to bring awareness, so much that every individual knows the importance and the ease of a stem-cell donation,” signed off Kiranmai.

All you need to know about stem cell donation:

According to the founders of DATRI, the registration process for stem cell donation is a very easy and quick process. To register as a potential stem cell donor, a consent form from the donor and a cheek swab test (saliva sample from one’s cheek) are the only requirements. DATRI helps in the blood disorder patients in finding their same Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) typed donors. Anyone from the age group 18-50 years can register as a stem cell donor.

Unfortunately, the probability of finding a genetically matched donor is one in 10,000 to one in over a million. Only about 25 percent of the patients find a donor from within their family. The rest need to wait for a life-saving donor. The chances of finding a match for patients suffering from these fatal blood disorders could only widen if there are a greater number of donors. Hence, a greater number of people need to pitch in by registering themselves so that more lives can be saved.

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