Amritsar boy first unrelated bone marrow transplant recipient. Fateh knew there was something wrong with him, but would always radiate positivity. “My name is Fateh, and I am bound to win,” he would claim. Ask six-year-old Fateh Singh about his superhero and pat comes the reply: “Naval Chaudhary.” The two share a unique bond. Amritsar-based Fateh was diagnosed with ‘Thalassemia Major’ when barely a year-and-a-half-old. During blood transfusion, it was found that his body was unable to produce antibodies and that a stem cell transplant alone could save him. Then began a hunt for the donor and DATRI, the country’s largest adult unrelated blood stem cell donors registry in Chennai, was approached.Naval, 25, a young IT professional from Bengaluru, who had registered himself with DATRI in 2015, received a call, telling him he was a perfect match for a young boy suffering from an acute form of Thalassemia. Subsequently, the country’s first unrelated bone marrow transplant was conducted by Dr Sunil Bhat, paediatric haemato-oncologist, Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre, Bengaluru, in May 2016.
A year later, on May 19, Naval came to Amritsar to meet Fateh. The visit was facilitated by DATRI — as per protocol, the identity of donors and recipients is kept anonymous for a year.“When I saw Fateh for the first time, I was overwhelmed and felt an immediate connect. I am lucky to have got an opportunity to save such an adorable child. I can well imagine the agony that his family must have undergone.He is concerned that there is little awareness in Punjab about the registration of one’s medical database. But a beaming Neeta Sethi, Fateh’s mother, told she and her husband Harwinder Singh had got themselves registered with DATRI. Describing Naval and Dr Bhat as “farishtey (angels)”, she said: “Naval is now a part of our family. Of course, I am indebted to DATRI too.After the transplant, he was confined to his house for a year. He spent his time viewing epics on Banda Singh Bahadur and Char Sahibzade and trying to tie the turban all by himself. He can now lead a normal, healthy life.
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