x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

No stone unturned in marrow donor hunt for Dubai-born Indian

Nimesh Joshi was diagnosed with Hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma in January and the 38-year-old is currently being treated in Los Angeles.

Nimesh Joshi and his wife Aditi Joshi are currently in the United States for Nimesh’s treatment. Courtesy of the Joshi family
Nimesh Joshi and his wife Aditi Joshi are currently in the United States for Nimesh’s treatment. Courtesy of the Joshi family

Nimesh Joshi knows the six-week race to find a bone-marrow donor to help treat his rare blood cancer is "truly a daunting task".

But the Indian, born and raised in Dubai, also knows he is backed by family and friends who have been pulling out all the stops to find a match in different countries.

"Some have put their work lives on hold and are working full-time on finding me a match," said Nimesh, 38, an entrepreneur.

Among them is his brother Chinmay, 33, who is still getting over the fact that he could not provide a match for his sibling.

"I cried my heart out when I was not a possible match for my brother," Chinmay said. "I'm done feeling sorry for him. My brother and best friend wants to live. I will make it happen."

Chinmay and Nimesh's wife, Aditi, are in Los Angeles with him as he is treated for Hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma, with which he was diagnosed in January.

The couple's son, 7, is in Dubai with relatives.

One friend has returned from organising a donor drive in Singapore and is urging South Asians to attend Dubai drives this weekend.

Vic Bageria, an Indian businessman in Dubai, has put his work on hold to help his good friend, who he has known for about 20 years.

"This is absolutely my 24/7 job - finding him a match, getting him back to Dubai and getting him back to the normal, healthy him," said Vic, 36. "He is my best friend. I would go to any length for him."

Nimesh says he is overwhelmed by the response.

"I'm starting my second round of chemo and will need stem cells here for transplant within six weeks," he said.

"Meanwhile, family and friends have been enthusiastically spreading the word through phone calls, Facebook pages, digging up untapped resources and arranging 'donor team' meetings.

"Others take my son to playtime so that he doesn't miss his parents as much. These efforts seem to have created an unprecedented response.

"I'm truly overwhelmed by the support that acquaintances and corporates have offered us."

Nimesh said his nationality made it difficult to find a suitable donor.

"Finding a match is tricky, depending on the ethnic background," he said. "The Japanese, for example, owing to their island-based genetic pool, have a 90 per cent chance of finding their match from one of the well-organised Japanese registries.

"Indians, on the other hand, based on a high geographical dispersion, have a very hard time finding a donor."

His wife remains optimistic.

"I'm waiting for Nimesh to get well and to return to the family once again," Aditi said. "I want us to make up for the time we've lost with our son and look forward to the three of us being together once again.

"Surely, this period is a phase, a diversion, and we hope to move forward soon. We're very hopeful for a marrow match."

Healthy people aged between 18 and 50 are being asked to provide a cheek swab and join the bone-marrow registry at several events in Dubai this weekend, where they will be told what is required of a donor.

The first of the events, being held in association with Datri Blood Stem Cell Donors Registry, a not-for-profit Indian-based organisation, will be today at Al Ahmadiah Office in Satwa from 10am to 2pm.

It will move to the management office of the Oasis Centre on Sheikh Zayed Road from 2pm to 10pm.

People can also go to the iCare Clinics in Oasis Centre Mall from 2pm to 10pm today, and from 8am to 10pm on Sunday and Monday.

Tomorrow, a drive will be held at Sindhi Ceremonial Hall in Bur Dubai, from 10am to 2pm, and at the India Club on Oud Metha Road from 4pm to 8pm.

Events will also be held on Sunday and Monday at the iCare clinic in Discovery Gardens, Zen Cluster, from 8am to 10pm.

For more information email vic.bageria@sdsdxb.com.

ecleland@thenational.ae