Today I learned about a 7 year old girl from India in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. Little Ira urgently needs a donor who is of South Asian descent; as an adoptee, she doesn't have biological family members who can step forward to help.
Ira was adopted by her Finnish parents from an orphanage in Old Delhi when she was almost two years old. In her new home, Ira has flourished. She loves music, dancing, reading, playing, and traveling, and is looking forward to becoming a doctor when she grows up.
In the summer of 2009, Ira fell seriously ill. The news was devastating. She was suffering from a malignant lymphoma with less than 50 percent odds of survival. All through the latter part of 2009, Ira underwent grueling chemotherapy treatments to beat the illness. Sadly, Ira has a rare genetic condition that increased the risk of recurrence. Now her only hope for survival is a bone marrow transplant from a donor whose tissue type matches hers. And here is the problem: because tissue types are inherited, the best chance for a match would be with a donor of Indian or South Asian origin. India does not have a national bone marrow donor registry. Even in Europe and North America, there are simply not enough registered donors of Indian or South Asian origin.
Of course, little Ira in Finland is not the only one to suffer from this situation. Thousands of Indian and South Asian men, women and children the world over die of cancer every year because a suitable bone marrow donor cannot be found. And naturally, all other ethnic groups would benefit if more donors registered. This is why Ira's friends are asking for your help. Please consider registering as a donor.
In the US, donor registry information is available from the American Bone Marrow Donor Registry. Internationally, Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide tracks donors. Residents of Finland, where Ira lives, can go to http://www.veripalvelu.fi/www/873.
The probability that you will actually be asked to donate is quite low. However, if you are identified as a match and agree to donate, you will probably need to stay in a hospital for a couple of days and take a week to recover at home. But remember, it will all be worth it: you will be saving somebody's life.
You can also help in a very important way by forwarding this message to
any contacts, forums, blogs or other media where it would have a chance
of reaching Indian or South Asian people. Ira's friends and family have set up a Facebook group; this is a great way to tell people about this critical effort.