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.