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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 3 March 2021

Dubai donor travels to India to save girl suffering from blood disease

Gopal Vachhani, 44, travelled to Ahmedabad to help the youngster who desperately needed stem cells to treat her thalassaemia.
Dubai resident Gopal Vachhani, a 44-year-old Indian, travelled to Ahmedabad, Gujurat, in western India to make a stem-cell donation to save a young girl suffering from thalassaemia. Courtesy Gopal Vachhani
Dubai resident Gopal Vachhani, a 44-year-old Indian, travelled to Ahmedabad, Gujurat, in western India to make a stem-cell donation to save a young girl suffering from thalassaemia. Courtesy Gopal Vachhani

DUBAI // A life insurance manager has travelled to India to make a stem-cell donation to a girl suffering from a blood disease after he was found to be a perfect match.

Indian Gopal Vachhani made the journey to Ahmedabad to help the youngster, who desperately needed the donation to treat her thalassaemia.

Despite not knowing the girl or her family, the 44-year-old agreed to help because he wants to see the inherited blood disorder eradicated.

“I don’t know her name or her religion, but her life has been saved without any major consequence to me,” said Mr Vachhani, who has lived in Dubai for more than a decade.

“The girl needed the donation urgently and I went to India to help.”

He said she was now recovering from her operation.

The donation, which took place last month, was organised by Datri, the largest stem-cell registry for adults in India.

Mr Vachhani is one of Datri’s 3,000 registered donors in Dubai, having signed up in 2013 through its social media site.

“At the time, they were asking for a bone-marrow match for a patient and I thought I would give a sample. It did not work out,” he said.

“Last month, they called me and informed me that I was the perfect match for a girl and asked if I wanted to donate.”

After agreeing, Mr Vachhani had several tests to confirm that his genetic make-up was compatible.

His family and doctors were supportive and told him it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Mr Vachhani said: “My son is 15 years old and he said ‘why not donate if it can give someone a new life?’

“When you look at the minor discomfort you go through when donating and compare it to the patient’s suffering, there is no comparison.”

The procedure for stem-cell donation involves the donor having injections for five days, after which the stem cells from the bloodstream.

He also encouraged more people to offer to become stem-cell donors.

“In this part of the world, thalassaemia is a huge problem. More people need to come forward and donate. This disease can be eliminated,” he said.

Raghu Rajagopal, co-founder and chief executive of Datri, thanked Mr Vachhani for his donation.

He said it was particularly significant because it was the 100th donation organised by Datri.

“The patient is being treated in India and the doctor had contacted us for this case,” he said.

“The patient and donor have not met and the donor does not know the patient’s identity, as determined by the confidentiality clause they agreed to.”

Thalassaemia makes an abnormal form of haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen.

The disorder results in large numbers of red blood cells being destroyed, which causes anaemia.

arizvi2@thenational.ae

Published: June 8, 2015 04:00 AM

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