We traveled last week to Kansas City to visit our friend, Prakash, who has been diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.
Dr. Prakash Krishnaswami is a Professor of Mechanical & Nuclear Engineering department at Kansas State University, and is in urgent need of a matching bone marrow donor. However due to the low number of registered South Asian donors, finding a match for Dr. Prakash could be very difficult.
According to the National Marrow Donor Program, the need for donors is very high for ethnic minorities. The procedure for becoming a donor is easy. HLA typing is done with buccal cheek swabs, blood tests are performed to confirm a match in the national registry and if you do not want to go through the surgical procedure of donating the bone marrow, you can donate Peripheral Blood Stem Cells (PBSC). According to SAMAR (South Asian Marrow Association of Recruiters), For a PBSC donation, you will receive daily injections of filgrastim for 4 or 5 consecutive days. Filgrastim is a blood stem cell growth factor that increases the number of blood stem cells released from your marrow into your blood stream so they can be collected through an aphaeresis procedure. In this process the donor’s blood is removed through a sterile needle placed in a vein in one arm, and passed through an aphaeresis machine that separates out the stem cells; the remaining blood (minus the stem cells) is returned to the donor through a sterile needle in the other arm. Unlike marrow donation, PBSC donation does not require anesthesia, which is the most significant risk of marrow donation.
This is a good time for all of us, especially ethnic minorities, to think about becoming a donor, as Leukemia and similar blood disorders can happen to anyone. More information on the National Marrow Drive Program is available at www.marrow.org. For South Asians, SAMAR has information available at www.samarinfo.org.