Pooja Kawatra

Pooja and her husband Nikhil learned about cord blood donation when they were expecting their first child Aayan. An SCBB representative approached them during a routine antenatal check-up, and they were intrigued to find out more about cord blood and its importance. After some research, Pooja and Nikhil quickly realised that cord blood contained precious haematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells, which could be used to treat patients suffering from blood cancers such as leukaemia and lymphoma.

Pooja shared, “I think parents do a lot of research online to get more information about their baby's development, parenting and more, including their cord blood banking options. We did too. We made an informed decision to donate the cord blood with the intention of helping someone who really needed the life-saving stem cells instead of banking it for ourselves.”

The family never expected that Pooja would be diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma – one of the diseases that can be treated with cord blood. She was diagnosed in 2009, when baby Aayan was just 9 months old.

Thankfully, after nine cycles of chemotherapy and other treatments, Pooja went into remission one year later. “That one year changed many things in my life. It made me a stronger person and I realised that every moment is worth living and celebrating. Perseverance and a positive attitude can do wonders in facing any situation in life. When you are determined to overcome an obstacle, you can definitely do it,” she explained.

Four years later, Pooja conceived her second child and was eager to donate cord blood again. Unfortunately, she did not meet cord blood donation eligibility criteria due to her latest medical history.

However, that did not deter Pooja. She continues to support SCBB’s cause in other ways. As the founder of Mums & Babies , an online parenting group, Pooja helps raise awareness and provides information about cord blood banking options for fellow parents. She also actively encourages family and friends who are expectant parents to donate cord blood.

Pooja said, “I advise all expectant mothers to learn about cord blood and ask about banking options from their doctors, hospitals and from online research. This small but significant decision can help save a life.”