9-year-old Meets His Lifesaver for the First Time at DKMS Big Love London Gala

14 November 2017

On Thursday 9 November a breath-taking meeting took place between a nine-year-old boy and his lifesaver at the first DKMS Big Love London Gala.

Donor and patient come face-to-face

More than 500 guests attended the Gala at the Natural History Museum and witnessed Ritesh Kukreja, from Bhiwani, India, meet his blood stem cell donor Hardeep Bains, 42, from Derby.

Ritesh was diagnosed with thalassemia, a blood disorder, in June 2008. He was receiving blood transfusions twice a month and was told his best chance of survival would be to find a blood stem cell donor – so the urgent search was on.

Hardeep initially registered as a potential blood stem cell donor with DKMS UK in 2013 and was identified as Ritesh’s lifesaver, with the donation taking place in January 2015.

Due to strict regulations the pair had never met before, so a surprise meeting took place at the Gala, hosted by our founder Peter Harf, his daughter and our Global Ambassador, Katharina Harf, and Charlotte & Alejandro Santo Domingo.

The donation

Hardeep said: “When I got the call to say you’re a match for somebody – I was like I’m doing it no matter what. It was really important for me to donate because having kids myself I can only imagine what the family were going through.”

Hardeep donated her blood stem cells through a peripheral blood stem cell collection. The blood stem cells were then transported to India and donated to Ritesh.

Ritesh’s father said: “We learned about DKMS through Dr. Bhurani and we’re lucky to find a match – we were so happy when we found this out. After the transplant it was the happiest day of our lives. Ritesh’s life has been magically transformed and we are hopeful for the future.”

Ritesh's doctor, Dr. Dinesh Bhurani, highlights the challenges Asian blood cancer patients face with finding matching blood stem cell donorsDr. Bhurani highlights the challenges that blood cancer patients face in India

Hardeep added: “This is one of the most amazing things I’ve done in my life – to be able to give someone a second chance of life is truly humbling. My hope for Ritesh is that he has a great future and a great life ahead of him and to be able to wish him this in person at the gala was simply wonderful.”

How you can help

If you are aged 17-55 years old and in general good health you can register to be a potential blood stem cell donor