Lawyer Harshil Arora got to meet the 14-year-old boy he gave a second chance at life to after donating his blood stem cells.

Harshil initially registered as a blood stem cell donor with blood cancer charity, DKMS, in March 2015, at a donor registration event.

He received an important call from the charity a few years later to say he was a potential match for someone and donated his blood stem cells.

Harshil said: “I had never heard of blood stem cell donation before registering with DKMS. The first steps were really straightforward - I filled in a form, did some cheek swabs and then went on standby.

"The thought of knowing I could be there for someone without too much effort sounded really positive, so I thought why not?”

Harshil from Harrow, Middlesex, had the opportunity to meet the boy whose life he saved, Vansh Adhlakha, for the first time on World Blood Cancer Day.

The meeting took place at Hotel ITC Gardenia, Bangalore, India, to coincide with the launch of DKMS BMST Foundation India.

Vansh, from Panipat, India, was diagnosed with thalassemia, a blood disorder and, since 2007, had been receiving blood transfusions. Doctors told his family the best chance of survival would be to find a blood stem cell donor – so the urgent search was on to find his potential lifesaver.

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Vansh said: “Before receiving the transplant I used to look very weak and people used to tell me all the time that I didn’t look well and ask what the problem was. It used to irritate me at that time.” 

Harshil was identified as a match for Vansh and, in 2017, he donated his blood stem cells by peripheral blood stem cell collection, which is used in around 90% of all donations.

This method is very similar to giving blood. It involves blood being taken from one of the donor’s arms and a machine separates the blood stem cells from it.

The donor’s blood is then returned to them through their other arm. This is an outpatient procedure that is usually completed in 4-6 hours.

The remaining 10% of donations are made through a bone marrow collection.

Due to strict guidelines the pair haven’t been able to meet beforehand. Harshil described the moment he met Vansh as completely overwhelming, emotional and amazing.

He said: “It’s an absolutely incredible process and I feel really privileged to have gone through it. I feel lucky to have been a match for Vansh and so pleased that I had the opportunity to meet him in person and that everything has worked out.”

Vansh said: “Since receiving my transplant. I can do all the things that my friends can do. All the things that a normal child can do, I can go to school, I can play, I can do everything that I want and that is because my lifesaver, Harshil, has given me a new life".

People from black, Asian or other minority backgrounds have a 20% chance of finding the best possible stem cell donor match, compared to 69% for northern European backgrounds – so it’s essential to register more donors.

Harshil said: “I think the most powerful message to share is that you can make such a huge difference to someone else’s life without doing too much at all. It’s key to make more people aware and encourage others to become a lifesaver-in-waiting and I would urge others to take that first step.”

DKMS-BMST is a joint venture of two organisations: BMST (Bangalore Medical Services Trust) and DKMS, one of the largest international blood stem cell donor centres in the world.

DKMS also operates in Germany (since 1991), the US (since 2014), Poland (since 2009) and UK (since 2013) and collectively have signed-up more than nine million registered stem cell donors. 

You can find out more about the charity at