September 09, 2017

Tata Trusts and Government of Maharashtra partner to encourage blood stem cell donation, issue call to action

͂Awareness campaign launched to build ‘commitment to donate’ among citizens

— Association to facilitate Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT) by providing healthy matching stem cell donors to patients suffering from life threatening blood disorders
— Aid in the identification of suitable matches for patients whose lives would have otherwise been lost due to unavailability of matching donors in the family

Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and Minister for Road Transport, Highways & Shipping, Shri Nitin Gadkari, and Medical Education and Water Resources Minister of the Maharashtra Government, Shri Girish Mahajan along with Mr. Burzis S. Taraporevala, Chief Financial Officer and Secretary, Tata Trusts, and Mr. Ashish Deshpande, Head - Grant Management and Finance, Tata Trusts, launched a campaign - Jeev Rakshak Sena, to encourage blood stem cell donation at an event in Nagpur

Nagpur: In a move that will raise awareness about bone marrow transplantation, Tata Trusts and the Government of Maharashtra have joined hands with the Marrow Donor Registry India (MDRI) to create a database of committed healthy blood stem cell donors who will stand by their pledge to donate their blood stem cells to patients suffering from life threatening blood disorders like Leukemia, Lymphoma, Sickle Cell Disease, Thalassemia, and Aplastic Anemia. Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and Minister for Road Transport, Highways & Shipping, Shri Nitin Gadkari, and Medical Education and Water Resources Minister of the Maharashtra Government, Shri Girish Mahajan along with Mr. Burzis S. Taraporevala, Chief Financial Officer and Secretary, Tata Trusts, launched a campaign to mark this association.

Every year, about 3000-4000 people in India are diagnosed with various life-threatening blood disorders, for which Bone Marrow Transplantation, a process that replaces a patient’s unhealthy bone marrow with healthy bone marrow taken from a donor, is usually their only ray of hope. However, very few patients are fortunate enough to find healthy matching donors within their families. Most need to search for matching voluntary donors who are not relatives, where the chance of a match is higher if it is within the same ethnic community.

The campaign film shows ordinary people asking their loved ones for support and encouragement towards their decision to join an army – the Jeev Rakshak Sena - an army of people committed to donating their blood stem cells to save the lives of those afflicted by blood related diseases and not holding them back when the call to duty is made of them. The film ends with an invitation to enlist and join the Jeev Rakshak Sena.

Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and Minister for Road Transport, Highways & Shipping, Shri Nitin Gadkari, said, “I would like to tell everybody here that the marrow related diseases are a huge issue in Eastern Vidarbha districts such as Gondiya, Bhandara, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli and Nagpur. Here in North Nagpur constituency itself, we have about 40 thousand patients of Sickle Cell and Thalassemia. The marrow related diseases are a menace to the scheduled class and backward class community in these areas. I am happy that Tata Trusts has come forward to partner with the Government of Maharashtra and other institutions to make a beginning to resolve this menace.”

Hon. Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Devendra Fadnavis said, “Our humble endeavor to empower Maharashtra to be the first to activate a statewide awareness campaign to build a registry of prospective bone marrow donors is finally coming to fruition. The bone marrow registry will ensure quick, efficient and effective matching of donors with patients in need. Along with Tata Trusts, the project will build a robust database of voluntary donors from 17

major cities in Maharashtra, in a phased manner, by working with the Public Health Department and the Medical Education and Drugs Department of the State Government.”

Medical Education and Water Resources Minister of the Maharashtra Government, Shri Girish Mahajan, said, “The Government of Maharashtra wants to offer its special thanks to the entire staff and management of Tata Trusts for supporting this much-needed initiative. Like other donation drives, bone marrow donation was also the need of the hour and it is a great philanthropical gesture by the Tata Trusts. Now, there are at least four to five thousand patients registered and awaiting a suitable match for bone marrow transplant. With the help of Tata Trusts, we can now find suitable donors at a faster pace. The Government of Maharashtra enjoys a great relationship with Tata Trusts and it is one of the few organizations which is always ready to help us.”

Commenting on the initiative, Mr. Burzis S. Taraporevala, Chief Financial Officer and Secretary- Tata Trusts, said, “Genetic blood disorders like Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemia that are identified in childhood, and acute leukemia among children have the highest chances of complete cure. With this initiative, Tata Trusts aims to drive action towards the bone marrow registry, which in turn will ensure that a matching donor is found who could give a patient a second lease of life.”

The project intends to build a robust database of voluntary donors from across 17 major cities of Maharashtra, in a phased manner, by working with the Public Health Department and the Medical Education and Drugs Department of the State Government. Phase I will see the launch of the project in the five cities of Nagpur, Pune, Mumbai, Aurangabad, and Nasik.

This awareness campaign is a clarion call to healthy Indians between the ages of 18 and 50 years, with no history of major illnesses, to register. It aims to create awareness among a diverse array of citizens from college students to homemakers to working professionals, that the blood stem cell donation process is simple, with no side effects, but with the ethereal satisfaction of having saved a life.

The registration process will take place through camps set up in medical colleges, hospitals, etc. across cities. A donor does not have to donate stem cells at the time of registration; all he / she has to provide is a blood sample that will be analyzed and his / her details will be added to the database. Once he / she is found to be a match, a thorough health check-up will be done to ensure the person can proceed with the stem cell donation. A search for a match is made on this secure database, on request by treating physicians, for patients in India and abroad.

Tata Trusts has been committed to the cause of cancer since 1945 when it established Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai as its first apex hospital dedicated to cancer treatment. The commitment of the Trusts has continued since, by working towards ensuring a more equitable access to cancer. This resulted in the establishment of Tata Medical Center in Kolkata. To continue with this endeavor of focusing on initiatives to promote awareness and accessibility to cancer care, Tata Trusts is working on several initiatives, one of which is the National Cancer Grid convened by Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. Cancer care, under the health portfolio, is one of the key focus areas of Tata Trusts with a significant body of work around breast cancer, Tobacco-related cancers, and palliative care.

About Tata Trusts:
Celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, Tata Trusts is amongst India’s oldest, non-sectarian philanthropic organisations that work in several areas of community development.

Since its inception, Tata Trusts has played a pioneering role in transforming traditional ideas of philanthropy to make impactful sustainable change in the lives of the communities served. Through direct implementation, co-partnership strategies and grant making, the Trusts support and drive innovation in the areas of education; healthcare and nutrition; rural livelihoods; natural resources management; enhancing civil society and governance and media, arts, crafts and culture. Tata Trusts continue to be guided by the principles of its Founder, Jamsetji Tata and through his vision of proactive philanthropy; the Trusts catalyse societal development while ensuring that initiatives and interventions have a contemporary relevance to the nation.

For more information, please visit http://tatatrusts.org/

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Contact:
Nikita Crasta
Rediffusion/Edelman
Email: Nikita.Crasta@edelman.com
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Nayantara Dutta
Tata Trusts
Email: ndutta@tatatrusts.org