FAQ for Patients
How many donors are on the register??
The BMDP has more than 81,000 local donors on the register and this increases every day as we work with our community partners to recruit more volunteers. In addition, the BMDP is connected to volunteer bone marrow donor registers in more than 54 countries around the world, giving us access to 30 million donors worldwide.
What happens when there isn’t a match for me?
Depending on your condition, the BMDP team may provide your doctors with an alternative cord blood recommendation. Whichever the option, your transplant physician will determine the best treatment for you.
How long do I have to wait?
The average time from the initial search request to the actual transplant may be between 15 to 20 weeks. During this period, your transplant team will know the kind of treatment and regimen that is required to support you leading up to the actual donation. We know this waiting time can be frustrating but it is also an opportunity to spend time with family and loved ones.
How much does a bone marrow transplant cost?
The cost will vary significantly depending upon the individual treatment that your medical team will recommend for you. Hospital fees will include in-patient and out-patient care as well as the drugs that are required before, during and after the transplant.
How much does bone marrow or blood stem cells cost?
The charges are levied in two stages; at the Verification Typing stage where the typical cost will be less than $4,500 and then the actual collection of the bone marrow or blood stem cells. This will vary depending on the country of origin and if we can identify a donor here in Singapore, the cost will be around $20,000 but overseas donors may cost up to $64,000.
Do I need to request for searches of overseas registers myself?
No. Very often, well-wishers will tell you that there are large donor registers in other countries and you should be searching these to find a match. Please be assured, this is exactly what the BMDP is doing on your behalf from the very outset when we receive a search request with details of your HLA typing. Our job is to provide your medical team with a one-stop service to search for your matching donor and then to transport the product directly to you.
Do you recommend having close family members tested to try and identify a match?
Your doctor would advise if other family members should be tested but the chances of finding a matching donor in this way are very small, so usually they would approach the BMDP to search the volunteer donor registers. Generally, only immediate siblings with the same parents are likely to be a match and they are the first people to be tested.
Is there a financial assistant scheme available for me?
The BMDP provides all Singaporean and PR patients with a full or partial subsidy to cover the cost of one Verification Typing; the re-typing of the volunteer donor which is the mandatory first step towards a transplant. This cost varies from just $1,400 for a local donor up to $4,500 for an international donor.
For Singaporean or PR patients who are unable to afford the cost of their bone marrow procurement for the transplant itself, the BMDP can also provide full or partial funding to cover this cost. You should discuss with the Medical Social Workers from the public hospitals as they will be able to provide more information on various funding sources.
Can my MediShield or Medisave cover the costs of the transplant and procurement?
At this stage, none of the costs incurred to test the donor and collect the stem cells are covered under the government health schemes. Some of the insurance policies will cover these costs and you should check with your provider.
When do I have to start paying for the BMDP’s services?
Providing information is free – so all the preliminary searches and the information we provide from the local and international donor registers will not cost you anything. Only when your medical team makes a request for the first Verification Test(s) will we invoice you a refundable deposit. This ranges from S$1,400.00 – $4,500.00 depending upon the donor’s country of origin. The next payment will be due at the time the donor is confirmed by your medial team and we are instructed to carry out the Donor Workup followed by the bone marrow or stem cell collection.
How do I make payment to the BMDP?
The hospital would provide you with payment instructions to the BMDP. There are three payment methods that include bank transfer, cheque or cash. If there are any queries, you may contact your case manager or use the BMDP’s general line – 6340 1040.
If the donor is overseas, do I have to pay for them to come to Singapore?
No, you do not have to pay any travel costs for your bone marrow donor. All samples, medical check-ups and the actual bone marrow or blood stem cell procurement will be carried out in the home country of the volunteer bone marrow donor. We will then arrange for one of the BMDP’s trained volunteer couriers to collect the product and to hand-carry this back to the hospital where the patient is being treated. The final cost includes the airfare and overnight accommodation if required for the courier.
Do I get to meet my donor?
Yes, if your donor is willing and you have passed your 12-month to 24-month post-transplant mark. This allows time for the patient to recover from the transplant and. Prior to meeting your donor, if you wish to send a note of thanks to the donor at any time, then we will be very pleased to forward this on your behalf. It should not contain any information that will allow you to be identified but definitely you may like to share personal and family details.
After the 12 to 24 months and subject to the wishes of the donor, we will be pleased to arrange a meeting between both parties. This is a very special time for both to share how their lives have interacted but also it can be very stressful and if you choose not to do this, that is absolutely acceptable.