Upahaar extends its support to the families of stem cell and organ donors throughout the donation process. Additionally, the charity actively promotes and supports research aimed at improving stem cell and organ donor registration within the community. Their campaigns are carefully orchestrated in collaboration with faith groups and various community organisations, ensuring comprehensive coverage across the UK
Upahaar, a charitable organisation dedicated to raising awareness about Organ and Bone Marrow (Stem cell) donation within the South Asian community, observed Organ Donation Week with a special event held at the Parliament.
Under the guiding motto of ‘Live Life, Give Life,’ this charity is committed to increasing awareness regarding blood stem cell and diseased organ donation among Asian communities, extending its reach not only within the UK but beyond.
Seema Malhotra, Honourable Member of Parliament for Feltham and Heston, a staunch supporter of Upahaar, graciously invited the organisation’s volunteers for a celebratory gathering at the Parliament. This assembly, attended by approximately 50 devoted Upahaar volunteers, served as a platform to discuss ongoing activities and update the MP about future initiatives. The event also featured moving real-life accounts from organ donors and recipients. Officials from DKMS and Anthony Nolan were also attended.
Father Davis Chiramel, chairman of Kidney Federation of India, who is popularly known as “Kidney Father From Kerala”, launched ‘Upahaar’ in 2015 to attract more organ donors from South Asia particularly Indians.
Upahaar extends its support to the families of stem cell and organ donors throughout the donation process. Additionally, the charity actively promotes and supports research aimed at improving stem cell and organ donor registration within the community. Their campaigns are carefully orchestrated in collaboration with faith groups and various community organisations, ensuring comprehensive coverage across the UK.
The organisation’s efforts extend to participating in community festivals, celebrations, prayer meetings, and other gatherings to facilitate organ and stem cell donor registrations. Upahaar maintains close partnerships with Anthony Nolan, a charity connecting patients with stem cell donors, and the DKMS Foundation, an international organisation dedicated to combating blood cancer and blood disorders. Representatives from these organisations, Holly Gooch and Hannah Tarrant, provided an overview of their activities during the meeting.
Seema Malhotra, in her address at the gathering, lauded the life-saving contributions of the volunteers, emphasising the privilege of hosting them during Organ Donation Week. The meeting was presided over by Dr. A Siddiq Pulakal, Chairman of the charity and a Consultant in Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, and co-chaired by Dr. Agimol Pradeep BEM, a Senior Transplant Coordinator and Organ and Stem Cell Donor Campaigner, with a special focus on Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. The gathering was warmly welcomed by Mr. Binoy Sebastian.
Dr. Agimol, in her speech, expressed gratitude for the outstanding volunteers who have contributed to saving countless lives. She introduced two exemplary Upahaar volunteers, Mr. Patil and Dr. Salam, who generously donated their stem cells. Dr. Agimol highlighted the tremendous progress made since Upahaar’s inception in 2013, with the chances of saving Asian patients with blood cancer improving from one in 10,000 to a promising one in 750.
“Apart from raising awareness about organ donation, Upahaar has significantly increased the chances of survival for those in need” said Dr.Agimol Pradeep.
Dr. Zainul Aabideen, a paediatric cancer specialist and former active UK volunteer now residing in the UAE, provided a global perspective on Upahaar’s vital mission.
Fr. Anony James, Vicar General of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Great Britain, shed light on the church’s perspective on organ donation and the sanctity of life.
Stem cell donors Mr. Jaydeep Patil and Dr. Shandar Salam captivated the audience with their personal stories, emphasising the transformative impact of their contributions.
Bindu Xavier shared her family’s experience of being part of the Upahaar mission. She consented for her husband to be an organ donor and he saved multiple lives.
The meeting also featured the selfless act of Catholic priest Fr. Jinson Devassia, a parish priest in Chester who anonymously donated his kidney to a stranger, earning expressions of gratitude for his life-saving gift.
One of the most touching stories of the evening belonged to Mini Karuppan, a Senior Clinical Research Nurse in Diabetes, who patiently waited for a kidney donor match. She recounted the emotional phone call she received when a match was finally found.
To honour the upmost dedication of its volunteers, Upahaar presented them with mementos and certificates. The charity, which was highly active before the COVID-19 pandemic, continues to stress the importance of organ donation and encourages its members to revitalise local activities.