Vivek Kumar seen here with his son, encourages his fellow Indians to register as potential stem cell donors. He registered and, later, donated his stem cells to a woman in India. Vivek holds a masters degree in business from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.
By Sally Douglas Arce
Indians, who are diagnosed with leukemia and other blood cancers, face challenges. Finding a match and, then, receiving a stem cell transplant is one of the only treatments to extend or save these patients’ lives. Indians are severely under-represented as stem cell donors.
Seventy percent of the time, a stranger of your same ethnic background will be your stem cell match. Proportionally, there are more whites than Asians/Pacific Islanders on the Be The Match national registry.
“What’s the solution?” asks Carol Gillespie, the executive director of the Asian American Donor Program (AADP), a nonprofit in Alameda, CA. “It’s to encourage more Indians and ethnically diverse people to register as potential stem cell donors.”
Joining Be The Match means volunteering to be listed as a potential blood stem cell donor, ready to save the life of any patient anywhere in the world who is in need of a transplant.
AADP is currently working with Veer, a 3-year-old Indian boy who lives in Canada and Layla, a 2-year-old Indian girl who lives in the UK. Both need to find a stem cell donor to extend their lives.
For Vivek Kumar, who is originally from Mumbai, within a few years of his registering as a donor, he was