Free drives by NMDP

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day one at the Hospital

Today Vishal was admitted to the hospital (Hospital of University of Pennsylvania). The doctors wanted to do a couple of tests on him to determine the health of his heart. His first cycle of Chemo regimen will start from tomorrow. Apparently, the first cycle is going to last for a week. Anybody who has undergone/who has seen somebody undergo this treatment would tell you that this is the least pleasant experience of his/her life. In the past Vishal has had multiple sessions of Chemo, so he knows what to expect from it He is apprehensive but at the same time prepared for it. He is being cautiously optimistic and has decided to take each day as it comes.

His wife Swati is with him at the hospital providing him with much needed support. Though it was at a short notice, Swati's mother was able to join them last week. Her father will be here next week. Since he is not going to get a chance to eat much in the coming few weeks(The treatment is such that it kills all your cells including your taste buds and side effects include nausea and vomiting), tonight Swati made him his favorite meal. He likes Idlis and potatoes.

So, how did it all start? Around one and a half years ago when Vishal was working in Washington DC and Swati was in Philadelphia, he had come down with flu like symptoms - high fever, body aches and fatigue. He consulted a doctor who put him on regular flu medicine for few days. The symptoms persisted and additionally he noticed that the region around his ankle joints was swollen. The doctor directed him to see a haematologist who in turn did a bone marrow biopsy. In a sad twist of fate, he found out that he had Leukemia on his 29th birthday. This was in October of 2007. His red blood cell count was so alarmingly low that his doctor wanted him to start his treatment immediately. He did not even have sufficient time to react to his diagnosis and additionally his condition had worsened so much in a matter of couple of days that he could not even stand for more than 5 minutes. It was heart rending to see a person who was so active suddenly turn into a weak and helpless human being. Husband and wife both decided that Duke (North Carolina) was their best bet since Vishal's cousin Jogita lived close by.

After many cycles of painful chemotherapy and months of rigorous treatment, he was told that the count of malignant cells in his body was close to zero. He was able to lead a close to normal life for about a year and in between he under went frequent check ups. In his last check up which was a week ago, he found out that the cancer has come back. The doctors have now advised him to go through a bone marrow transplant.

Please keep Vishal in your prayers. He needs your support NOW!
Please take a bone marrow test or at least provide your support to him. We have been conducting drives for bone marrow tests at different places in the North East region. His cousin Jogita has been feverishly campaigning and organizing drives in North Carolina. These drives would not only help Vishal but many people, especially South east Asians who are suffering from this deadly disease. Please spread this message through mails, fliers, Networking sites like Orkut and Facebook. These little actions could drive this campaign further.

Please contact us if you want fliers or template of the flier. It would be very helpful if you can put up this flier at your work place, in your neighborhood, at nearby South east Asian grocery stores/Restaurants. If you want to organize drives in your region or if you have any questions/concerns please feel free to mail us at

Vishal and Swati would like to thank you all for your support.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Myths & Facts about Bone Marrow Donation

A lot of you have expressed concerns about Bone Marrow Donation. We have updated the blog with some Myth busters, I hope this is helpful. If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to contact us at

The bone marrow donation procedure is painful.
General or regional anesthesia is always used for this procedure. Donors feel no needle injections and no pain during marrow donation.

All bone marrow donations involve surgery.
The majority of donations do not involve surgery. The patient's doctor most commonly requests a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, which is non-surgical and outpatient. If marrow is requested, it is a surgical procedure, usually outpatient.

Pieces of bone are removed from the donor.
Pieces of bone are not removed from the donor in either type of donation.

A PBSC donation involves taking the drug filgrastim for five days leading up to donation in order to increase the donor's needed blood-forming cells. On the fifth day, blood is taken from the donor through one arm, passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells, and returned through the donor's other arm.

In marrow donation, no pieces of bone are taken; only the liquid marrow found inside the bones is needed to save the patient's life.

Donating bone marrow is dangerous and weakens the donor.
Though no medical procedure is without risk, there are rarely any long-term effects from donating. Only five percent or less of a donor's marrow is needed to save a life. After donation, the body replaces the donated marrow within four to six weeks.

The NMDP screens all donors carefully before they donate to ensure they are healthy and the procedure is safe for them. The NMDP also educates donors, answers questions every step of the way and follows up with donors after donation.

Bone marrow donation involves a lengthy recovery process.
Due to taking the drug filgrastim, PBSC donors may have symptoms such as headache, bone or muscle pain, nausea, insomnia or fatigue in the five days leading up to donation. These symptoms nearly always disappear one or two days after donating, and the donor is back to normal.

Marrow donors can expect to feel fatigue, some soreness or pressure in their lower back and perhaps some discomfort walking. Marrow donors can expect to be back to work, school and other activities within one to seven days. The average time for all symptoms to disappear is 21 days.

Donors have to pay for the donation procedure.
Donors never pay for donating. All medical costs are paid by the patient's medical insurance or by the patient, sometimes with NMDP assistance. The NMDP reimburses donors for travel costs, and may reimburse other costs on a case-by-case basis.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Please Comment

Please do feel free to provide your support by commenting. Vishal would love to hear from you.

Thank You.

Please help Vishal

Vishal Mehta is a 30-year-old software consultant. He was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) in Oct 2007. After undergoing treatment which included Chemotherapy, he was in remission temporarily.

Unfortunately, the disease has relapsed and doctors have suggested a bone marrow transplant. Transplants work best when there is a family member who is a well-matched donor. Unfortunately, He lost his parents at a very young age and he doesn’t have any siblings. Therefore, he has to depend on a donor outside his family. However, finding a match is very difficult and rare. To add to that a very small percentage of South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis) are registered to be marrow donors. South Asians comprise approximately only 1% of the National Marrow Donor Registry.

This is your chance to HELP VISHAL and many others like him.

We would like to urge you to take a Bone Marrow test. It is a very simple and painless process.

• No fees required
• On the spot registration
• Give a swab of cheek cells for testing.
• Time required for the entire process is 15 minutes or less.
That’s it! Your tissue type is then added to the registry.

NMDP (National Marrow Donor Program) is conducting this drive at multiple locations. Click on the link specified below and key in your ZIP code to find a location nearer to you.