Tag Archives: blood disease

2012_02_Article_05

1 millionth blood stem cell transplant marks major medical milestone

2012_02_Article_05

Through a global collaboration between transplant centres, bone marrow donor registers, researchers and physicians, the 1 millionth blood stem cell transplant was completed in late December 2012. For many patients battling critical blood diseases which include the most common forms of cancer, leukaemia and lymphoma, a blood stem cell or bone marrow transplant is now a proven and essential therapy.

The global statistics were gathered through the Worldwide Network for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (WMBT) and today, more than 70 malignant and non-malignant diseases are treated routinely with blood stem cell transplantation, providing new cures for patients around the globe. The procedure technique itself has improved considerably and for patients with optimal conditions, disease-free survival rates are now reaching more than 90 percent.

“Worldwide, more than 50,000 patients a year are receiving transplants, in regions ranging from the Asia-Pacific to the Mid-East to Central America,” said Dennis Confer, M.D., treasurer of the WBMT and chief medical officer of the U.S.-based National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP). “The curative potential of this therapy will only increase, thanks to the commitment and collaboration of researchers and physicians across the globe.”

In Singapore, the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) operates the only donor register and provides a vital service to the local hospitals to identify a matching donor for their patients. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the BMDP has over 55,000 fully tissue typed donors registered on the local database and has facilitated transplants for close to 500 patients being treated in Singapore.

According to Jane Prior, President of the BMDP, “in Singapore, 6 people are diagnosed every day with a potentially fatal blood disease and a Bone Marrow or Blood Stem Cell transplant can offer a possible cure but they must first have a matching and willing donor. The first option is a sibling match but failing that, doctors turn to the BMDP and our promise is to find a matching donor for every patient who needs a transplant”.

The BMDP is a Singapore registered charity 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 who need a transplant to survive. The BMDP also provides a 365-day service to the hospitals to search the local and global donor registers to find a matching donor for their patients.

Daniel Prior with BMDP Search Coordinators, Joei Zhang (left) and Lim Lay Feng

Twenty Years of Saving Lives

Daniel Prior with BMDP Search Coordinators, Joei Zhang (left) and Lim Lay Feng
Daniel Prior with BMDP Search Coordinators, Joei Zhang (left) and Lim Lay Feng

The start of a new year – and also the 20th anniversary of the BMDP – and it was very appropriate that our first visitor to the office was also one of our earliest patients who underwent a transplant in 1996.

Diagnosed at age 11 with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and with no option except to have a transplant,  Daniel Prior was the first paediatric transplant patient at the National University Hospital. Today, sixteen years  later with a degree and juggling a full time job plus a line-up of interests, he is very real proof that a successful transplant allows the patient to get back to a full and normal life.

In his words, “it was a very long time ago but I do remember waiting for news that they had found a donor for me and once that came through, then it was a real race through time and having all the treatment.  Obviously I believe the BMDP is doing fantastic work, and it’s only because a woman in Australia signed up as a donor, that I’m alive today.”

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The Year at a Glance!

Here’s an update at the work we have done this year – thank you so much to all who have supported us, let us strive for greater success in the year 2013! We can do it!

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Meet the Incredible Doctor Yvonne Loh!

Our dear Dr Yvonne geared up, gladly representing BMDP!
Our dear Dr Yvonne geared up, gladly representing BMDP!

Every day Dr Yvonne Loh works on the front line in the fight against the most common forms of blood disease including leukaemia  and lymphoma as a Consultant Haematologist and Medical Director of the Stem Cell Transplant Program at Singapore General Hospital.

Nobody knows better than she does how a transplant can not only save a life but just the chance of survival  transforms despair into hope for patients and their families.

After hours, she’s pounding the pavements to win another battle and this time raise funds and awareness for our work at the Bone Marrow Donor Programme – and more money raised, means more lives saved.

Support the Incredible Dr Yvonne Loh and make a donation – every $150.00 donated pays for another new donor on the register. DONATE NOW!

From top left: donor's fiancée, Reza's mother, Reza's father, donor, Reza, Reza's brother.

Calling out for a Hero!

From top left: donor's fiancée, Reza's mother, Reza's father, donor, Reza, Reza's brother.
From top left: donor’s fiancée, Reza’s mother, Reza’s father, donor, Reza, Reza’s brother.

The past one week has been amazing! 14 year old transplant recipient, Reza met the 28 year old woman who saved his life for the very first time and the real miracle is a Chinese donor being a perfect match for a young Malay patient!

It’s a “first” for us and it was a real joy to be with them while they both shared their stories amid lots of laughter like real old friends … For our Superwoman (who doesn’t want to be named) she told Reza that she was never worried about making that life-saving donation – she know somebody’s life depended upon her plus it was a safe and simple procedure – but she was very worried it might mean she couldn’t go and watch the first F1 Night Race in Singapore! For football-mad Reza, meeting Superwoman’s fiancé in a matching Arsenal t-shirt really made the match and so a new friendship begins.

Every so often people ask why do I still want to be involved in the BMDP; after all, it is exactly 16 years ago today that Daniel had his transplant and life moves on. Indeed and rarely do we talk about this in a personal context – but every search to find a donor is because another family is struggling through the worst of times and waiting for good news that we have found a potential life-saving match.

So when someone asks you about bone marrow transplants, please share what you know about the BMDP and help us with our mission. We desperately need more donors to sign up – and also you could make a donation to help pay for the tissue typing – with your help, more people will have a chance to survive and meet the hero who saved their life.

Written by Jane

Ten years after the original, the Calendar Girls all reunited for another pearly statement

Pearls and Big Ideas…

Ten years after the original, the Calendar Girls all reunited for another pearly statement
Ten years after the original, the Calendar Girls all reunited for another pearly statement.

On a rainy holiday in the Yorkshire Moors many years ago, I picked up the original “Ladies of Rylston” calendar – it was just a couple of years after Daniel’s transplant and middle aged English ladies wearing only their pearls and natural elegance to raise awareness for leukaemia definitely got my attention…. especially so in the sun-starved valleys of North Yorkshire where warmth trumps style any day of the year!

Anyway, clutching my precious find, I came home and dared suggest to the then-President of the BMDP that we should invite the ladies of the Tatler to strip for our cause – I was absolutely convinced this well-dressed and amazingly successful group of power-women would love the idea – although being Singaporeans, we’d have to trade the pearls for the bling! Anyway, long story short, I was completely out-voted by the boys of the BMDP committee who were simply horrified and it only validated their un-voiced opinion that I was a bit “odd”. Even worse, I had to fight hard to hang the calendar on my own office wall….such were the times and how they’ve changed!

Anyway, it’s fabulous news that next week Calendar Girls makes its regional debut on stage in Singapore and the BMDP will be right  there with them! We cannot promise you naked lady t-shirts – we’re even keeping our own clothes on  –  but I do recommend that you buy a ticket and come see the show. The movie was poignant, funny and most of all, has helped raise millions of dollars around the world to fight the battle against leukaemia and other blood diseases.

Hope to see you there.

– Written by Jane Prior

Tickets are available on sistic! Click here: http://tinyurl.com/9zvdsjv

Reza standing tall, fully recovered from leukaemia thanks to the bone marrow transplant from a willing donor.

Donor saved boy’s life and kept his passion alive

Reza standing tall, fully recovered from leukaemia thanks to the bone marrow transplant from a willing donor.
Reza standing tall, fully recovered from leukaemia thanks to the bone marrow transplant from a willing donor.

Imagine –  soccer was Reza’s passion, and representing the school team in a tournament was his dream. However, life is unpredictable and Reza was diagnosed with leukaemia just days before Christmas.

While the world celebrated, he had to spend all the holiday season in a hospital bed and almost worse than that, his hopes of representing the school team the following year were also dashed.

For Reza, life had just come to a juddering halt and the future seemed to be an endless lineup of hospital visits, tests and loneliness – until that fighting spirit kicked in.

Reza stayed strong and with support from the rest of the family, underwent chemotherapy while all the time waiting for a suitable donor to be found. Without a bone marrow transplant, Reza’s future was just 3 years of chemotherapy and pretty bleak so it was great news when just 7 months later the BMDP found a suitable match for Reza. “Such a kind person! they don’t even know me, yet are willing to donate”, Reza expressed, “I would kneel down and bow and say thank you very very much”.

Not only did the donor save Reza’s life, but once again he has the opportunity to continue pursuing his dream. Healthy and fit, life is back to normal – soccer, friends and everything that can fit into another day of being alive.

Donating bone marrow is a minor inconvenience and discomfort – but the impact is permanent and life-changing. Be a donor, you can save a life.

Saad Chinoy during a recent video interview session to kick-off the Match for Life launch event.

Couldn’t save his own brother, signed up to save someone else’s

Saad Chinoy during a recent video interview session to kick-off the Match for Life launch event.
Saad Chinoy during a recent video interview session to kick-off the Match for Life launch event.

When his only brother was diagnosed with leukaemia and the only chance of survival was a bone marrow transplant, the first obvious place to look for a donor was within the family.

Saad was devastated when he wasn’t a match and his brother’s life was in the balance as a search was initiated to find a volunteer donor on a register such as the BMDP. Life was tough for all the family with little to do except keep hoping that someone, somewhere will turn up as a perfect match but Saad was all too aware that there was only a 1 in 20,000 chance of finding that someone to save his brother’s life.

As Saad shared, “it was awful having to wait for good news but eventually we found two possible matches and one of them was willing to make the donation.” Today, Saad’s brother is alive and even back at work and Saad himself has registered to be a bone marrow donor because as he explains, “I may not have been a match for my brother, but I really hope that I could be a match for someone else’s!”

Why should people sign up? Because there is no greater gift or impact that you can have on another person’s life – to help them live… and why wouldn’t you?

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The year at a glance…

A very big thank you to everyone for making our work here at BMDP a success! Here’s an update for the year 2012, take a look at what we’ve been doing to help our patients with Leukaemia and blood-related diseases.

BMDP 2012 updates

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It’s “Match for Life”

MFL_LowRes_LogoOur October campaign has a new name – Match for Life – which we feel is a better representation of the work that we do and the vital role that all of our volunteer donors play when they are a “match” and they can actually save a “life”.

Watch out for more details on the BMDP’s inaugural 30 day campaign as we reach out to as many companies and organisations throughout October to tell their staff what it takes to be a bone marrow donor. Just a few moments to learn about our work and sign up and a commitment for the future, that they will make that life-saving donation of bone marrow or stem cells to save the life of someone, somewhere;  should they be that “Match for Life”…

And with 6 people every day diagnosed with a blood disease here in Singapore, that “someone” could be much closer than you think.