I am 56 years and a beneficiary of the Bone Marrow Donor program (“BMDP”). In November 2011, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia at age 49. I had three options: first - undergo 12 progressive cycles of chemotherapy, second - opt for bone marrow transplant, and lastly - be discharged and go home to spend time with my loved ones and then passed on. Surely option three was not a wise choice as I always believe in taking chance and bet my life on a successful bone marrow transplant especially when I have three siblings on standby. Unfortunately, none of their genotype profiles registered a good match. It was deemed highly risky to proceed other than to look for an unrelated donor. Immediately, a worldwide search was initiated through BMDP networks. Within three months, a suitable match was identified by the Tzu Chi Taiwan Foundation. A 37 years old Taiwanese lady would be my donor. The bone marrow stem cell graft was transplanted on 29th February 2012. It was a tough fight on me clinging to a glimmer of hope at the beginning and determination to beat the odds that came together with the committed doctors and nurses from Singapore General Hospital of wards 48 and 72, love from parents, siblings, and loyal friends to lift me from the abyss.
On 3rd November 2018, I attended the 25th Anniversary Bone Marrow Donor meeting program with two other Singaporean survivors, Desmond and Megan, together with their loved ones. I did not get a chance to meet my donor as she had migrated. She knew that I am well and gave her blessing for me to take care and continue well with life. On that day, I witnessed 10 recipients of bone marrow grafts on stage meeting their donors. They shared wonderful stories of their heroes and their personal commitments and sacrifices that brought lasting hope and happiness to the lives of survivors and their loved ones. I extended my stay to visit the Tzu Chi foundation in the Jing Si Abode in Hualien, and had the opportunity to visit the Tzu Chi Hospital Bone Marrow Collection Centre. I am truly impressed with the Tzu Chi volunteers and their unwavering efforts to actively engage and get prospective donors to willingly register their bio profile information and blood specimens for collection on the spot. Each donor volunteer successfully recruited potentially widened the selection pool. I was told that when the initial program started, it was tough and confronted many difficulties. The bone marrow donor program was first introduced to the army draftees to be the bone marrow donor volunteers.
Coincidently, in 2018 BMDP celebrated its 25th Anniversary with the vision of “Saving Lives Together” that came with a 3-Year Plan target by end 2018 to have 50,000 registered donors. At the time of writing this article, I was informed they had achieved 100,000 donors coming from diverse ethnic background. I am impressed with the achievements of BMDP. Without the hard work of BMDP organisation, I will not be here. I am honoured to be granted this opportunity to share my Hope to Live journey.