How to Save A Life

vinay and rashmi.jpg

A tragedy, in five lines;

This is Vinay and his wife Rashmi.

They were married in 2005.

He was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in 2006.

He is 28.

He needs a bone marrow transplant, in the next six weeks.

If you aren’t already part of the National Marrow Donor Program registry, please consider what you would be going through if this were your little brother, childhood friend or husband. Wouldn’t you want as many desis as possible to be in the database? Vinay’s greatest hope lies with someone like him, but the number of us who are registered is so low, it’s pathetic.

All it takes is a few minutes of your time. A swabbed cheek. And maybe, with that selfless gesture, you increase the chances that this person who probably has so much in common with you goes on to live the life we all deserve.

This is what Vinay’s parents have to say:

We cannot express in words what this is like. All we can do is implore you to close your eyes for a moment, and imagine that this is your son, your brother, your best friend. We are guessing you would move heaven and earth to help save his life…
Vinay is the world to us – he is warm, funny, loving. We have watched him grow from a little baby, to a young boy playing sports, to a fine young man determined to be a doctor, to a man marrying the girl of his dreams. Please help us help our son have a chance to live – to be with his wife, with us, and his friends. [Hema and Partha]

Drives are planned in Fremont, Cerritos, Anaheim and Livermore; additional information may be found here. Speaking of additional information, when I numbly surfed through Vinay’s website, the following three points made me cringe:

When a Caucasian is looking for a match they find 15 matches on an average where as opposed to an Indian they might find one match or none.
This can happen to anyone at any age and god forbid if you get into similar situation then this will be the only registry that will come to rescue.
There is no such registry in India and when an Indian kid is looking for a marrow match this registry is the only resort. [HelpVinay.org]

We’ve written about others whose lives were similarly threatened by our failure to represent in such a vital way. What would it take to move you to get involved? Would it matter if I told you that like every 8th desi, he’s from Fremont?

That he went to Ardenwood and eventually UCB (though not this UCB)?

That his favorite books were The Hobbit and Midnight’s Children?

That he liked The Godfather (but only 1 and 2), Garden State and Million Dollar Baby?

That he’s Seshu “Tiffinbox” Badrinath’s cousin?

He listens to Coltrane, Miles Davis and 2pac?

And yes, like every male I know, he likes to watch Scrubs and Sportscenter?

Do you identify with him yet? I pray you do. Because one of you could be his match and that would be the sweetest thing. My Uncle died of Leukemia and I’m sure each of us knows someone else who has been similarly affected. Many of you possibly know Vinay, his wife Rashmi or his brother Bharath; I hope that even if you don’t, you’ll do the right thing and offer the tiniest part of yourself up. I dream of a day when we don’t have to forward these heartbreaking stories via GMail, publicize links to websites set up for the most tragic of reasons, pass around PDF flyers or beseech each other to get registered. It shouldn’t be this hard to save a life.

84 thoughts on “How to Save A Life

  1. Pregnant women can sign up with a cord blood registry shortly after birth (with the Natl Cord Blood Program, for example, and I’m told there are various uses for cord blood that make this a very useful form of registration.

    I was at a recent marrow registration drive which involved only a cheek swab, and apparently, pregnant women were free to register, although you could stipulate that you did not want to be a donor (if you were a match) until after your delivery.

  2. I find this beyond heart breaking. My husband and I are going to a drive next weekend. I can’t imagine my husband having leukemia. I know that I would do everything in my power to find him a match.

    Thank you for posting this.

  3. Anna:

    Thanks for the shout. Yes, let’s figure this out–Vinay deserves it. I only recently moved to Baltimore so I’m not that familiar with the area. But I do know there are densely-packed areas/regions of brown folk in Columbia, Ellicott City, Burtonsville, Germantown, etc. And I’m sure there are other Cerritos/Fremont-type cities also? You mentioned “outer Red Line suburbs”–does that mean Shady Grove & north thereof? An idea: we enlist even just 2 or 3 “representatives” from each of these desi-laden suburbs/communities–folks who have parents/family in the area and they can, in turn, round up folks to attend a drive next weekend (say, at Chinmaya Mission MD and/or other area religious houses (mosques, temples, etc.)).

    I’ll start putting out calls to folks I know that are from this area. Anna, I’ll try contacting you off-blog via your blog (or, email me at indiaseema@hotmail.com)? Maybe we can have a quick organizing meeting this weekend and pull together something for June 8-10 weekend?

    I’ve never felt such a sense of urgency and desperation in my life. Your post was so on point: this could just as well be my brother, my son, my partner. And Vinay is my BOY. We lived in the dorms together freshman year (he was on the all-guys floor just below me; I frequented it often :) ). He deserves a shot at being the amazing doctor he’s going to be–we’ve gotta help him do that.

    My mom called me this morning. The NMDP called home because my father was just tagged as a match for another person in need of a transplant. The possibility of saving someone’s life is closer within reach than we know. For anyone who doubts the power or possibility of finding a needle in a haystack, trust me. You could be a match. One cheek swab and you could save Vinay’s life.

  4. Has anybody here donated marrow or known somebody who does?

    I have donated. For adults these days it PBSC donation is what is needed. Which is exactly like they describe in the NMDP’s website.

    I am at rajChaudhary@yahoo.com if anyone wants more information about PBSC.

  5. Vinay’s brother Bharath just emailed me this link: http://www.matchpia.org . If you go to the section marked “Donor Drives”, there is a phone number (877-206-8800) and an email (info@matchpia.org) that you can contact to help set up a bone marrow registration drive.

    Cord blood is just as useful a form of donation as any other. I believe it’s just an alternate, and very useful. So let all your pregnant lady friends know, too!

  6. If anyone does organize a drive, PLEASE let me know details so I can get it on Vinay’s website. Thanks.

  7. I tried registering: unfortunately, I, along with a lot of DBD’s have had jaundice (Hep B) (damm those tasty pani puri’s), which makes me “ineligible”

    bummer

  8. I tried registering: unfortunately, I, along with a lot of DBD’s have had jaundice (Hep B) (damm those tasty pani puri’s), which makes me “ineligible”

    how do pani puris give you jaundice? that sounds like one nasty pani puri…

  9. I tried registering: unfortunately, I, along with a lot of DBD’s have had jaundice (Hep B) (damm those tasty pani puri’s), which makes me “ineligible” bummer

    I am DBD, but I haven’t had jaundice. However, someone correct me if I am wrong: Hep B and jaundice are not the same afaik. Jaundice is sometimes a symptom of Hep B, while Hep B is a sexually transmitted viral disease of the liver.

    So, if I am right, you most probably had jaundice, not Hep B. You may be able to still donate.

  10. Jaundice is sometimes a symptom of Hep B, while Hep B is a sexually transmitted viral disease of the liver.

    Hep B can be transmitted other ways as well, I thought? But you’re right about jaundice =! hep B. That said, I would hope a person knows when they’ve had hep and when they haven’t?

  11. That said, I would hope a person knows when they’ve had hep and when they haven’t?

    True. Hep B is typically sexually transmitted, but there are other modes as well—blood transfusion being one, etc. But I am concerned because of this statement:

    I, along with a lot of DBD’s have had jaundice (Hep B) (damm those tasty pani puri’s)

    The usual common jaundice in India is Hep E or A, which is transmitted through contaminated water and food. If you have had jaundice through “pani puri”, it is probably not Hep B.

  12. FYI — there’s a bone marrow drive at Stanford tomorrow for anyone who’s in the south bay area.

  13. More info on the Stanford bone marrow drive please? What are the dates & times? It’s not listed on marrow.org. Is it open to people who aren’t Stanford students (I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be)?

  14. The Stanford blood/bone marrow drive is from 11am to 3pm Friday June 1st on the Stanford campus at White Plaza (around where the bookstore and post office are). I’m not sure why it’s not listed on marrow.org…maybe it was set up at the last minute through the hospital?

  15. Oh, and to answer your last question…I’m not a Stanford student either (I’m a staff member though). I’m sure it’s open to everyone who wants to register.

  16. Anyone know what the odds of actually being called up are once you register? Are donations anonymous?

  17. I will defnitely register at one of the drives this weekend. I have often thought about doing it, but my apprehension (and ignorance) held me back. But the benefits (perchance save a life?) far outweigh my fears. Especally, when I see this young, vibrant couple, whose dreams and aspirations have not yet been fulfilled.

    Also, contrary to what some are saying, I feel that one should not register in this database if one is not committed to going all the way. Can you imagine the devastaion that recipients and their loved ones would feel if a potential match backed out at the last minute? So close and yet…

  18. @RitaC #67:

    I agree. It is what I have been saying as well. People who don’t realize what they are up to before registering will get so suspicious once they find out the reality that they will drop out. On the other hand, I also think that giving a realistic picture of the whole thing may cause some people to think twice, but most will go ahead and register anyway—it is still just an (significant) inconvenience to the donor, but nothing more. When time comes, they don’t feel as apprehensive and are probably more likely to go through with the donation.

  19. I just want to make a point and stuff

    Life balances out, it’s like bizarre and stuff, becasue the guy here is so lucky becuz he gets to sleep with such a hot chick and boink her every night, butthen hes lyk totally unlucky becuz he has this disease I hope he gets better, but its fnny how lif kinda totally balnces out.

    Knda weird

  20. Hey Monster

    It must be nice for losers like you to have the internet to maintain your anonymity. It took me 30 whole seconds to struggle with the fact that you think leukemia affecting a guy with a hot wife is a sign of balance. Balance? Brother, I see it now. Your cyborg ass is gonna reproduce like there’s no tomorrow, providing the earth with generations of fucked up insecure shit talkin losers. Meanwhile the rest of us struggle to do something constructive to counteract the chaos that is the reality of what we’re livin.

    Do us a favor- go get ‘boinked’, wouldja? Would save the rest of us from your toxicity.

    & next time, have the balls to sign your name to words that have the power to wound, or better yet, just think before you post.

  21. This family’s plight, is what prompted a 12 year old leukemia patient, Pat Pedraja, currently not in need of a marrow transplant, to do a nationwide 30 city marrow registration drive tour to register 2007 in 2007.

    Pat also raised the funds to cover the tissue typing cost ($52), to ensure all can be added to the national marrow registry who come to a Driving For Donors drive.

    Pat exceeded his initial goal of adding 2007 to the marrow registry and now is shooting for 5,000.

    For more info go to: http://www.drivingfordonors.com http://www.myspace.com/drivingfordonors2007

    Marrow Registration Drives · Denver June 11, 2007 · Seattle June 21, 2007 · Portland June 25, 2007 · Sacramento June 29, 2007 · San Francisco Warped Tour July 1, 2007 · San Francisco July 2, 2007 · Fremont July 6, 2007 · Los Angeles July 9, 2007 · Orange County July 10, 2007 · Las Vegas July 11, 2007 · City of Hope Duarte July 13, 2007 · San Diego July 16, 2007 · Phoenix July 18, 2007 · Dallas July 23, 2007 · San Antonio July 26, 2007 · Houston July 30, 2007 · New Orleans August 1, 2007

  22. u cowards, im NOT a bad persyn, insecure or wateva

    justryin to explain mylself.

    so y delete my note/

  23. u cowards, im NOT a bad persyn, insecure or wateva
    justryin to explain mylself.
    so y delete my note/

    Requests for celebrities’ contact info or homework assistance; racist, abusive, illiterate, content-free or commercial comments; personal, non-issue-focused flames; intolerant or anti-secular comments; and long, obscure rants may be deleted.

  24. okay fine, I can write in tightass bookrept english if u want.

    I’m not bad, all i said wuz something good happened to him and something bad too thats all

    and wuts so wrong with dat? i siad i hope he gets better.

    and if u give him a choice of 2 things, never bee sick at all and hav a fat uglyu wif, or be sick and get better but still have the hottie wife, what u think h’ed do?

    anywy i wsh him and everyone else with the disease good luck.

  25. I believe that “not a monster” is really Donald Rumsfeld with his eloquence sadly diminished by early onset Alzheimer’s (jump to “from up there, people look like peaceful ants”). Or maybe he realizes that empathy is not just a river in Egypt, well, not Iraq for sure.

  26. I was wondering about the same thing. I searched for that post several times yesterday.

  27. : What happened to the update thread on this topic?

    Well, A N N A’s mouth started working before her brain. And when the brain caught up, she decided to pull the post.

  28. does it really matter if she pulled the thread?

    NO.

    the bottom line is, those who are serious about bone marrow match/donations should DO IT and register.

  29. …much like A N N A’s copious posts on this board!

    Sorry for being a di*k about this. The tone of that whole post rubbed me SO the wrong way.

  30. Well, A N N A’s mouth started working before her brain. And when the brain caught up, she decided to pull the post….

    Unless you’re A N N A, you really wouldn’t know, would you?

    The post was pulled because I couldn’t monitor and verify all of the things which were being added as “information for donors” in the thread, wrt malaria, countries visited etc. I didn’t think it was responsible to leave it up. I also vehemently felt like trolling on that (or THIS) thread was extra evil considering the gravity of the situation. People who claimed to speak for Vinay turned out to not have anything to do with him. That’s awful. The best thing to do was remove the post.

    We all take care of our own posts, if we can’t, we close them. This is a life or death matter. I felt responsible for the potential misinformation.

    It may have rubbed you the wrong way, but Vinay, his wife and his friends are fine with what I wrote. So sorry to disappoint you– you must have had the biggest hate-rection ever when you thought you could smugly criticize me for something so awful.

    No it doesn’t matter…much like A N N A’s copious posts on this board!

    Shame on you, for using a thread like this to snipe at me. Your need to insult me is pathetic and inappropriate, especially in this specific space. My email address is public. Take your anonymous, “dick” commentary there, if you can bear the lack of attention such private communication provides. I mean, how terrible of me to GUILT people in to trying to help save someone’s life. What is wrong with you? Miss the entire point much?

  31. well the bottom line is…

    south asians need to be more aware of the registry, and being committed donors…

    that is all.

    forget the tone, ramblings, or the other extraneous stuff you may have to read.
    just get to the meat of the matter. the meat here is bone marrow. the matter is that it saves lives.