In a world where, more often than not, we as humans can only feel disappointment in other members of our species, occasionally an act of unwarranted kindness can pull us from the apathy caused by the world. Such an act has occurred.
Priya Shah is a 7 year old girl who was fighting a losing battle with thalassemia, the disease is genetic and causes red blood cells to be destroyed. According to her teachers she was a bright student, but was unfortunately forced to drop out from school. Doctors had advised Priya and her family that a stem cell transplant was her best, but last shot, at a cure. None of her family members were a match.
Here is where the story takes a turn for the better. A complete stranger would prove to be the hero of this moment, travelling all the way from Dubai to India just to give Priya a chance at life. Gopal Vachhani, the hero in question, is a 44 year old man from a different country with no personal connection to Priya, and yet he did not blink before coming to Priya’s rescue. He was a perfect match, his stem cells were transplanted into Priya in an allogenic-matched unrelated donor transplant.
Surgeons say they have rarely come across a donor who has gone such lengths to honour their transplant commitments. “Most matched registered donors back out, leaving critically ill patients in the lurch. It is heartwarming to see donors like Gopal,” says transplant surgeon Dr Chirag Shah.
Vachhani had previously registered as a donor in 2013. When he got the call which would ultimately save this little girls life, his family asked him if he really wanted to move to the next step. His reply to his family was, “Yes, I want to save a life.”
With Vachhani’s gesture, the DATRI stem cell donor registry has completed the 100th blood stem cell donation where the patients were not related. Raghu Rajagopal, co-founder and CEO of DATRI, said, “If there are 20 million registered donors in the world, there are just over one lakh registered stem cell donors in India. We’re still hunting for a donor for over 1,000 patients.”
Priya’s family says Gopal is God for them. Priya has yet to meet Gopal in person; donation rules stipulate the donor meets the recipient only after a year. A bond one would hope, however, has been forged between these 2 that can never be broken.