It is said that the greatest gift is the gift of life. This saying is exemplified by what Tamil Nadu's 26-year-old Masilamani did to save a four-month old baby.
Masilamani’s daughter, a 6-year-old, suffers from Thalassemia Major, a serious blood disorder which requires the patient to undergo frequent blood transfusions.
She has been looking for a suitable donor for her child, for quite some time now. Unfortunately, these efforts have mostly been unsuccessful.
However, when the 26-year-old mother found out that she was a perfect match for a four-month-old infant afflicted with a critical autoimmune disease, she didn’t think twice before agreeing to the bone marrow donation.
“I wanted to be a donor for my daughter, but the results at the DATRI Blood Stem Cell Donors Registry stated I wasn’t a match. However, I was matched with a baby boy, which made me very happy as I could save a child’s life. I pray to the almighty that he recovers soon,” said Masilamani, who hails from a remote village named Mudhalipalayam near Coimbatore.
As per reports, thanks to this act, Masilamani has become India’s first woman bone marrow donor. Speaking to the press, Raghu Rajagopal, the Co-founder, and CEO of DATRI stated:
“I feel privileged to have India’s first lady Bone Marrow Donor from DATRI. It makes me proud to say that while women are excelling in every field, there are a few who are doing extraordinary and phenomenal contributions to the human kind such as donating their blood stem cells to save lives. In the true sense it is like giving birth, but not biologically.”
It wasn’t easy though. Masilamani faced severe resistance from her fellow villagers and her immediate family.
My in-laws were worried because of my daughter’s chronic illness. Even my relatives and neighbours advised me not to go ahead with the donation as there could be side effects in the future, if not immediately.
She fought tooth and nail and finally convinced her family with help from her husband.
“When I shared this with my husband he was on board immediately. I must thank him for supporting me and being by my side always. Some men would leave their partners if the child is found to be having a fatal disorder. But he has been a responsible father and a great partner,” she added.
Masilamani did have her doubts, which were resolved by Dr Revathi Raj, the surgeon who operated on her.
Speaking to The Better India, Dr Raj said, “Bone marrow is harvested under general anesthesia, in which a needle is inserted into the pelvic bone and the marrow is extracted with a syringe. Masilamani is probably the first (woman) unrelated donor to donate her bone marrow and this was a phenomenal step. I appreciate her husband’s support and DATRI’s successful facilitation. She gave life to her children once and now, she has given life to another child.”
The surgery took place in January this year, and went off smoothly.
“The operation was completed within an hour. I had a slight pain in the hip after the marrow was taken, but the next day I was all fine and back to normal,” said Masilamani.
After setting an example for everyone, especially women, Masilamani is now an active propagator of organ donation. She believes that there is no better noble act than giving a new lease of life to someone.
If any woman wants to be a bone marrow donor, I appeal to them to stay firm about their decision. They say the greatest gift is the gift of life and it is a golden opportunity if you are a perfect match. If given another chance, I will donate again, she signs off.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)