In 2013, Kanmani Kannan, a native of Pachaperumalpatti village in the Tiruchirappalli district of Tamil Nadu, signed up as a stem cell donor during a medical camp in Kerala. Once the camp ended, she kept the registration card close to her at all times in the hope that someday she would be chosen to save someone’s life.
Interestingly, the call came four years later and that too, two days before her graduation ceremony. However, nothing was to stop Dr Kanmani, who was more than glad that her stem cells would provide a person with a new lease of life. This deed also led to her becoming the first woman stem cell donor in Kerala.
As is the protocol followed in such scenarios, the identity of the recipient was kept under wraps.
The mystery was finally revealed at a programme jointly organised by the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Datri Blood Stem Cell Donors Registry in Kochi on Thursday, giving Dr Kanmani the opportunity to meet the recipient.
The beneficiary of Dr Kanmani’s selfless act was Sreemali Balasuriya, a 6-year-old from Sri Lanka, who was diagnosed with thalassemia when she was only two months old and would undergo a blood transfusion every 14 days.
Dr Kanmani was completely overwhelmed when she met little one, who was also shy and quiet initially. However, the two broke the ice during the programme and ended up taking many pictures with each other.
Also present at the event were Sreemali’s parents who professed their heartfelt gratitude to the young doctor as well as the organisations and medical teams, without whose intervention, their daughter would have continued to struggle with her debilitating condition.
Sreemali’s father, Jayanth, was running from hospital to hospital before he zeroed in on one in Bengaluru to provide his daughter with the best treatment available.
This was an emotional meeting for both Kanmani and the Balasuriya family. In fact, when she was speaking about her experience—right from registering for the programme to finally meeting her ‘blood baby’—Kanmani was at a loss for words.
“I knew if I am lucky enough to help out someone I might get a call and I did. On the day I signed the papers, I remember most of my classmates were scared. Now, I think the best message I can give them is my own example. I want it to reassure others that nothing will happen even if we make a stem cell donation,” said Kanmani at the event, reports The New Indian Express.
One could quite literally say that Kanmani’s act of kindness transcended borders and seas, gifting Sreemali a better chance of leading a healthy life.
The young girl loves to dance and aspires to become a doctor. We hope that Sreemali achieves her dream, and just as Dr Kanmani selflessly practised what most doctors preach but seldom do, the little one also walks along the same line.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)