By Riya Bhattacharjee
Berkeley will be one of 20 Bay Area stops for a bone marrow donor drive this weekend to help former UC Berkeley student Vinay Chakravarthy in his fight against leukemia.
Vinay, a Fremont native, is a resident in orthopedics at Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts. He was recently diagnosed with life threatening leukemia which can only be treated by a bone marrow transplant.
A graduate of Kennedy High School, Vinay completed his undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley and went on to pursue medicine at Boston University.
The quest to save Vinay’s life spread beyond his family when South Asians living in the Bay Area took up the search for a bone marrow match as a challenge.
Vinay’s diagnosis also helped to highlight the dire shortage of bone marrow donors within the South Asian community.
According to a statement released by Team Vinay, the group of South Asians who have come together to help Vinay, statistics from the National Marrow Donor Registry indicate that out of 6.6 million donors, only 100,000 are of South Asian origin.
Drive volunteers have urged people of South Asian origin to join in an effort to build the South Asian marrow donor registry, which could one day save lives of friends and family.
Community members plan to hold 200 bone marrow drives in over ten states across the country after the Mega Drive. More than 13,000 people have been registered so far.
For Vinay, 28, the fight goes on. In his most recent posting on his website www.helpvinay.org, he wrote:
“Instead of getting depressed and down on my situation I figure this is the time we all take a deep breath and decide what our future holds for us. We can give up or we can keep going.”
Bone Marrow Drive
Healthy individuals, particularly of South Asian origin, between the ages of 18-60 may volunteer to be marrow donors.
Participants should be willing to donate to anyone who needs a transplant if a match is found.
The procedure to register is less than a minute and not invasive, just a simple cheek swab.
July 14, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. and July 15, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., ISKCON, 2334 Stuart St., 649-8619. See www.helpvinay.org for more information.