Questions were raised recently on how we spend our funds with some queries on how exactly we support patients. We appreciate that the BMDP is a rather unusual entity and so we wanted to take some time to clarify this.
Our primary focus from the start was to build a register of volunteer donors. All the monies we raised went into recruitment and tissue typing donors so in this way we have created an asset for all Singaporeans. One of our long terms goals was always to provide support to patients but in the early days with limited funds, the focus was apparent.
Recently we received a substantial donation of almost $1 million and the Board felt it was timely to set this aside to help patients and so we started the Patient Fund. We have always been very aware that patients who are Singaporean or PR being treated for a blood disorder can use their MediSave and MediShield to cover some expenses. But they are NOT able to use these monies to pay for any of the expenses incurred in finding the best donor and then collecting a bone marrow or blood stem cells for transplant.
This is something that we have tried to address over the years and the discussion continues with different parties. We understand all too well that being diagnosed with a potentially terminal illness is bad enough but very quickly money becomes a huge issue for every patient and at the same time, a chance of being cured also means getting quickly from diagnosis to transplant.
To quickly start the transplant process, the BMDP subsidises the cost of the first Verification Typing for any Singaporean or PR patient which is the important first step to get them a match. Interestingly, only half the patients are eligible but that’s understandable with Singapore’s position as a regional medical centre.
When it comes to the cost of the Bone marrow or blood stem cells, we can assist any Singaporean or PR patient referred to us by the Medical Social Workers. These are the staff in the Hospitals who can do the means testing and they then submit an application to us which we review on a case-by-case basis for Board approval.
Under the charity guidelines, all our funding must go to help the local community and so we support Singaporean and PRs only. The cost of the procurement and VT is significant, ranging from $22 – 65,000 but it is only a part of the total transplant costs which can easily reach $300,000 in total. Our commitment as Singapore’s national register and as a charity committed to saving lives, is to ensure that no impediment is put between a patient and getting at least a chance of a cure.