Melissa Tan, a marketing executive with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, never imagined that a random act would save a life – but it did! When she received the call from the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP), she agreed to the stem cell donation without hesitation.
Today’s blog, Melissa talks about her donation experience and why everyone should sign up.
How I became a donor
To be honest, there was no motivation to sign up. My friends and I joined the registry during BMDP’s donor recruitment drive at SIM University after finding the cheek swab process to be a novelty. Besides that, we thought that it was cool to support a cause.
When I was called up
I never expected to be called up. After all, the chance of being a match for someone is pretty slim. Hence, the reason for BMDP to be actively recruiting donors and increase the likelihood of finding a match for patients.
So, you can image the shock when I got the call from BMDP informing me that I may be a potential match. I got over the “surprise” phase quickly and set my heart on going ahead with the tests to determine if I was the best match for the patient.
It turned out that I passed all with flying colours and was the best match. Health is something that all of us may take for granted but for the first time in my life, my health can impact someone else. This made me even more determined to see through the whole donation process.
The people around me
My friends and family were all supportive of my decision to be a volunteer donor. They felt that donating my bone marrow cells to a stranger was a brave act.
My parents’ concern was the collection procedure. Like any medical procedure, it comes with an inherent risk. Jerene, the Donor Centre Manager, shared with my parents and myself about the donation method and was extremely patient in answering all our questions, making sure that we understood and gave us the assurance that we needed.
Knowing of my donation, my company gave full support, allowing me to take the necessary leave for my medical check-ups and donation.
The donation process
Many of you may not have heard of the Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) donation method but 90% of all donors have their stem cells collected this way. Prior to the donation, my family doctor assisted me with the small hormone injections which stimulated the bone marrow to produce stem cells that would be released into my blood stream.
After 5 days, the donation day finally came. The collection of blood stem cells is similar to a blood donation. I was hooked up to a machine that filtered out the stems cells needed from my blood stream.
It was slightly uncomfortable during the initial hook up. But I kept reminding myself that it was insignificant compared to what the patient was going through.
Jerene supported me throughout the donation process and ensured that I was comfortable. A special mention to the hospital staff for making my donation process a positive one with their friendliness and professionalism.
Within a day, my donation process was completed and I went home, grateful to be given a chance to save a life.
My message to public
For those thinking about signing up as a bone marrow donor, I would say go for it! Knowing that the act of donation could potentially help save a life, I feel it is a worthy cause to do so.
If I have to do it all over again, I would!
If you’re 18-49 years old, take your first step to becoming a hero with us. Sign up as a donor!