Singapore Bone Marrow Register adjusts age limit for donors

2012-07-10 • Comments

Bone Marrow Donor ProgrammeWith older adults being fitter and healthier in recent times, raising the age limit of donors to 60 years of age will give the donor register a huge boost

Singapore, 10 July 2012
– The Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) today announced a revision in the age limit for volunteers to donate their bone marrow to non-related patients suffering from leukaemia, lymphoma and other blood-related diseases. With immediate effect, any donor on the register will now be eligible to donate up to the age of 60 years (from 55) which brings the BMDP in line with major registers in the UK and the US.

A Singapore charity, the BMDP builds and manages Singapore’s only register of volunteer bone marrow donors and also provides a 365-day service to support the local transplant hospitals looking for a match for their patients. The register currently has around 50,000 volunteer donors. Every year, the BMDP targets to add another 5,000 donors to increase the odds of finding a match; this is just 1 in 20,000 in the general population of the same racial group.

According to BMDP President, Jane Prior, “We are re-defining the barriers imposed by age in every aspect of society and our announcement today is very much aligned to this. Older adults today are fitter and more health-conscious, and by adding five years to the availability of each donor, we are providing a tremendous boost to our local register as a source of life-saving bone marrow or stem cells for transplant.”

To join the BMDP register as a volunteer bone marrow donor, any individual in good health, between the ages of 18 and 49, provides a small DNA sample through a simple cheek swab and consents to having their sample tissue-typed and then being added to the BMDP database. Only if a donor is identified as a match for a patient, will they actually be asked to donate their bone marrow or blood stem cells. Tissue-typing each donor costs S$150.00 which has to be covered through public donations and fund-raising. In this context, the younger the donors are when they join the register, the longer the lifetime value they represent to the patients.

A bone marrow transplant is becoming a preferred treatment for many blood diseases and the work of the BMDP is escalating year-on-year. In the first 6 months of this year alone, more than 200 requests were submitted by the local hospitals to find a match for their patients. Bone marrow or blood stem cells were delivered to 29 patients between January and July from donors sourced through the local BMDP register or from a partner register around the world.

About the Bone Marrow Donor Programme
Established in 1993, the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) is a non-profit organisation responsible for building and managing Singapore’s only register of volunteer donors who are willing to donate their bone marrow to save the lives of patients with leukaemia and other blood diseases and who need a transplant to survive. The BMDP also provides a 365-day service to the local hospitals to search the local register in search of a match and where necessary extend this to partner registers around the world. To date 50,000 donors have registered to be on the database and the BMDP has facilitated more than 420 transplants. To improve the odds of finding a match, the BMDP aims to increase the register by 5,000 new donors each year. More information is available at