Stem Cell and Cornea Tissue Donation

Organ Donation has marked its significant history for 100 years and more. It created an evolution in tissue and regenerative medicine. Organ donation is performed if the patient is subjected to any internal injury or major organ damage. A donor can donate an organ, and create an impact on others’ lives by saving their life.

A special session was organized to spread awareness & educate the participants about organ donation.

Dr. Gomathy Subramanian, the President of the IRIA Kerala spoke of the various methods and efforts undertaken by their organization to spread awareness about organ donation.

Eye Donation is performed when the patient suffers from any eye injury/ when they lose eyesight. Through eye donation, one can regain their eyesight totally. Eye donation is purely a voluntary act and it can be performed even for the benefit of society.

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Bone marrow donation is the surgery recommended under the physician’s supervision and even that is a complicated surgical procedure. Prior to the surgery, few medical tests were recommended and the donor is recommended to take a few drug injections called filgrastim to remove the blood-forming cells out of the bone marrow. Bone marrow donation has major significance in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.

Expert Speakers:

Dr. Neeraj Siddharthan- Professor and Head, Department of Clinical Hematology and Division of Transplant and Cellular Therapy, Amrita Hospital, Kochi

Dr. Anil Radhakrishnan-Chief of Corneal Services Eye banking and Lasik, Centre for Aortic Diseases and Marfan Syndrome, Corneal Transplantation, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi

The speakers emphasized the lack of awareness when it comes to organ donation as far as our nation is concerned. Dr. Rijo Mathew mentioned that there was little to no awareness on eye donation and the like.

Dr. Neeraj Siddharthan spoke on Blood/Marrow Stem Cell Donation

He mentioned that multiple diseases could be commonly cured with hematopoietic (Stem) cell translation including


  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Myeloproliferative disorders
  • Non- Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Juvenile chronic myeloid leukemia

Non–malignant diseases

  • Aplastic anemia
  • Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria
  • Fanconi anemia
  • Blackfan Diamond anemia
  • Thalassemia major
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Severe combined immunodeficiency
  • Wiskott Aldrich syndrome
  • Inborn errors of metabolism

Dr.Neeraj spoke on blood stem cells and how they play a crucial role in keeping us healthy

A blood stem cell transplant is the last & only hope for treating patients with severe blood disorders

Dr.Neeraj spoke about Dr. Goerges Mathe, the doctor who performed the first successful allogeneic bone marrow transplant. He also spoke about E. Donnall Thomas who in 1990 shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Joseph E. Murray for the development of cell and organ transplantation.

He spoke about the difficulty in finding an HLA match with the best odds being within the family. He then spoke about the various methods of progress that were made in finding a perfect match keeping in mind the ethnicity.

He spoke about the three methods of a bone marrow transplant

1.      Autologous bone marrow transplant – The donor is the patient himself or herself. Stem cells are taken from the patient either by bone marrow harvest, frozen and then given back to the patient after intensive treatment.

2.      Allogeneic bone marrow transplant – The donor shares the same genetic type as the patient. Stem cells are taken either by bone marrow harvest or apheresis from a genetically matched donor, usually a brother or sister. 

3.      Umbilical cord blood transplant – Stem cells are taken from an umbilical cord immediately after the delivery of an infant. These stem cells reproduce into mature, functioning blood cells quicker and more effectively than do stem cells taken from the bone marrow of another child or adult.

He also spoke of the registries that help in the process of identifying suitable donors.

Dr. Anil Radhakrishnan spoke about the eye and introduced the functioning of the cornea and the brain perceives vision. He mentioned that if the cornea is damaged, the blindness that ensues is corneal blindness.

He mentioned the following causes of corneal blindness

  • Injuries
  • Birth defects
  • Infections
  • Chemical burns
  • Congenital disorders
  • Eye surgery complications

He also said that all people except those with communicable diseases can donate their eyes

He mentioned that apart from healthy individuals the following groups can also donate their eyes

  • Spectacle wearers
  • Diabetics/ Hypertensive
  • Asthma patients
  • Eye surgeries

He emphasized that with basic storage availability, the cornea can be used for a transplant.


Dr Shilpa Subramanian

Dr. Shilpa Subramanian is a MDS, Periodontist and currently manages Global Pharmacovigilance and Medical Affairs Operations at a Healthcare company in Mumbai. She is passionate about staying ahead of the curve in clinical and non-clinical advances in the field of pharma and healthcare.

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