Celebrating 10 years of DKMS in the UK, volunteer hub leader and donor, Poonam Chand tells us about her relationship with, and hopes for, DKMS.
Location: Lives in Bedfordshire with her family.
Occupation: Owns a bar in Bedford.
Hopes for 2023, current hopes: Happiness.
What amusing or interesting phrase do you think the initials DKMS could stand for in English?: Diversifying Kindness by Magical Stem Cells.
DKMS provides an opportunity to save the lives of those diagnosed with blood cancer and disorders.
In 2018, we set up the Bedford volunteer hub with other volunteers to find a stem cell match for five-year-old leukaemia patient Kaiya.
Sadly, Kaiya passed away in January 2019. The Bedford hub continues with its mission to give as many people a second chance at life as possible and raise awareness of stem cell donation and blood disorders in the Bedfordshire area.
Thankfully I have no direct experience with blood disorders or blood cancer within my family, however, I have MGUS - abnormal proteins - that can be a precursor for myeloma.
Volunteering in your local community helps by starting the conversation about blood cancers/disorders and giving information about stem cell donation, so the local community can make an informed decision on joining the register.
The volunteers working for the Bedford hub were deeply moved by Kaiya, a five-year-old with leukaemia, in a desperate search for a match. We wanted to register but there was nowhere locally that we could register, so we started donor drives in the area with the help of Kaiya’s family and DKMS.
From there we continued running drives with a mission to give as many people as possible a second chance at life.
The more volunteers we have at DKMS, the more likely we can register more people to the stem cell register. Since we began the hub in 2018, we have registered over 2000 new donors and raised more than £15,000 for DKMS. We would never have thought we would be able to achieve this, but we have!