Many of you are receiving this newsletter because you have signed up as a volunteer bone marrow donor. Meaning you are committed to saving a life if identified as a match to a patient who has only one chance of survival and that Good Samaritan could be you!
This side of our work is widely recognised – and with 50,000 new donors to recruit in the next three years, we keep ourselves connected with the public every day through schools and colleges to companies, shopping malls and even at the libraries. So far this year we have recruited whopping 15,174 new donors. By year-end, we hope to reach our target of 17,000 new donors.
Even more exciting, we have received requests to find a match for 150 Singaporean patients year-to-date and amongst these, 35 of them have already gone through to transplant and with almost half of them (16 to be exact) finding a local donor. This is a huge milestone for us because a local donor match means saving precious time for the already time-pressed patients and not forgetting the significantly lower procurement costs.
We also play our part to save lives globally with 8 local donors helping patients from as far away as the US, Canada, France and closer to home, Australia and Malaysia. We work in a world beyond borders and it is exciting to see how the BMDP is starting to “give back” for earlier years when our register was smaller and most of our donors were from overseas.
As a local charity and custodians of public funds, it is imperative that we measure the impact of our work in the context of meeting an unfulfilled need. With no donor register in Singapore at the time of our incorporation in 1993, from the outset, our goal was to build a life-saving donor register to save the lives of patients suffering from blood diseases who need a transplant in order to survive. This is still our primary goal and in support of it, we are committed to expand the register by another 50,000 new donors by the end of 2018. Public donations we receive are spent on building the register, which is a national asset for all Singaporeans today and into the future. But when our work is for an individual patient, in that case they have to self-finance the process.
A lesser-known aspect of what we do is our donor “Search and Selection Service” provided to the transplant doctors. When we receive a patient’s details and a search request, our team searches through the database for available donors and then provide a list of recommendation of the best possible donors for the doctors to select. Rolled out progressively over the past 18 months, our “Search and Selection Service” is meeting another need in the market. That is to support the transplant doctors with a service that saves time, brings about efficiency and will ultimately save more lives.
Singapore has a world-class medical infrastructure and excellent facilities supported by outstanding talent. We take for granted that a visit to the doctor or the hospital will bring relief and a cure. But in our world of bone marrow transplantation, a cure depends on one individual delivering on a promise to save a life. The amazing volunteer donors who sign up are just the kind of people we need more of in this world – individuals willing to look beyond themselves and in Singapore’s context, they truly exemplify the “kampong spirit”.
More stories about our work are on the website – our volunteer donors, the companies who have helped us reach out to their people and the teams of students who have extended our voice among their peers. Despite already being connected to the public, we still need your help to take our voice even further into your own communities at work, at play or even within your family to reinforce the enormous impact of our work as we continue to save more lives.