My son, Arjun Dhar, with only seven months of childhood, faces a very big challenge. Can he win in this trying time and save his life? As much as this is a battle for Arjun, it has been very tough for both Rinku and I.

I am Sanjay Dhar, Arjun's father, and Rinku is his mother. Currently, I am a faculty member at the University of Chicago's Business School. My son Arjun suffers from a severe blood disorder called Beta-Thalassemia, and he has the most severe form of this disease. To survive, he will need monthly blood transfusions throughout his life due to his inability to make normal red blood cells. This can also lead to several other complications, the most severe of which is iron toxicity owing to the frequent blood transfusions.

Giving birth to Arjun was not easy for Rinku. Arjun has been the answer to our prayers for our 11 years of married life and the last four years of infertility treatment during which Rinku underwent three consecutive miscarriages. Finally came the happiest moment of our lives when Arjun was born on September 18th, 1999. The celebrations in our family had hardly begun when we found out that Arjun had inherited a serious blood disorder from us. Completely shocked with the news, we had no option but to pray and to provide him with the best environment we could.

Our worst fears were confirmed when Arjun needed a blood transfusion one day before his six-month birthday, as he had become severely anemic. Even a bigger shock to us was when we were told that the average life expectancy of someone in his condition is about 20-30 years under the best of medical attention.

However, he has a chance. One of the most promising cures for his disease is a Cord Blood Transplant that entails providing him with matching stem cells. After a baby is born and both child and mother are doing fine, the mother delivers the placenta, which is usually thrown away. The placenta is a very rich source of stem cells that can save Arjun's life if expectant parents agree to donate these cells to him. There is absolutely no risk to either the child or the mother as everything occurs after child delivery and after ensuring the well being of both mother and child.

The following steps are involved in cord blood donation:
1. The need for consent for the cord blood donation
2. The mother will need to provide a small blood sample (about 7cc) anytime during              pregnancy to check for infectious diseases
3. The couple may need to provide some basic medical information

Unfortunately, due to the much lower numbers of our communities in the US, we are not well represented in the Cord Blood Banks. Therefore, we are making this appeal primarily to the Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities since a match is most likely to be found within these communities given our ethnic origin.

Please contact us. We are counting on your help and generosity to save our son. Time is of essence since he needs to get the cord blood within a year. We will always be indebted to you. Please help us save Arjun.

-- Sanjay Dhar  Tel -1-773-955-8845   Fax -1-773-288-0379

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