Tag Archives: BMDP

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An ikan bilis for a Carousel dinner

Noor Hanisah in action
Noor Hanisah sharing about signing up to be a bone marrow at a donor drive at National University of Singapore (NUS).

Imagine the price of a hotel buffet spread for just the price of an ikan bilis? Not even a nasi lemak.  Just an ikan bilis.  Wouldn’t you be making your reservation? Two years ago, I first came across a Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) drive in my school. After reading and listening to the presentation, I did the two-minute cheek swab. This put me on a waiting list — one that is searched by doctors around the world and when a patient’s bone marrow matches mine, I get to give as little as an ikan bilis to help fulfil their last option to survive. Yet, the patient gets the buffet of life — a chance to complete their degree, get married, see their children grow up. On my side, all I had to sacrifice was a few days, experience some minor inconvenience, and some discomfort, an ikan bilis when measured in a total lifetime.

Back at the drive, I was surprised to hear that there aren’t many Malay donors on the register. My heart aches remembering the pakcik (uncles) and makcik (aunts) patients. A bone marrow match is usually within the same ethnic group, and if the odds are 1 in 20 000, with less than 5,000 Malays on the register, my community have an even lower chance of finding a match.

We, Malays, take pride knowing our large extended families, right down to our tiga pupu (third cousin). What if one, if not some, of them was a waiting patient? Do my brothers and sisters in Islam know the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) fatwa allows bone marrow donation? As I advance towards a healthcare career, I hold an excerpt from the Quran close to my heart:

“If anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind.” (Quran 32:5)

I would love “to save all of mankind” with just this tiny bit of my bone marrow. A medical procedure that can be done in a single day, with hardly any risk or side effects. A good feeling in the heart is better than a satisfied stomach; and definitely better than an ikan bilis for a Carousel dinner.

– by Noor Hanisah Binte Noordin, a Singaporean Malay third-year aspiring pharmacist at the National University of Singapore

Dr Yvonne Loh (formerly the Medical Director of the Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant programme in SGH) depends on the BMDP to deliver matching donors for her patients from around the region.

Running a Marrow-thon for transplants

INTRODUCING SINGAPORE'S NEWEST TRANSPLANT FACILITY at Gleneagles Hospital!
INTRODUCING SINGAPORE’S NEWEST TRANSPLANT FACILITY at Gleneagles Hospital!

Dr Yvonne Loh, a leading transplant physician [Haematologist and Medical Director of the Asian Centre for Blood & Bone Marrow Transplantation (ACBBMT) at Gleneagles Hospital] and dedicated board member at the BMDP, gives her take on bone marrow transplants (BMT) in Singapore.

Over the last five to 10 years, bone marrow transplants have increasingly been offered to older patients as reduced intensity regimens are preferred. With transplant doctors at the various transplant centres gaining more experience, the confidence to offer transplants to patients increases. Coupled with a growing and aging population, this contributes to more cases of blood cancers and other conditions that might potentially benefit from BMTs.

It is these burgeoning issues that make the BMDP’s work extremely relevant in today’s context. As a committee member at the BMDP, Dr Loh has first-hand knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes during a donor search and how she can contribute to its swift success. Likewise, on an executive level, participating in decision-making exercises enables her to play a crucial role in enhancing the BMDP’s daily life-saving processes.

Not one to mince her words, Dr Loh feels that the understanding and awareness of BMT is limited, even among medical practitioners in Singapore. “This may lead to late referrals for treatment in patients that might need a BMT and compromise the chance of a cure”, explained Dr Loh. With Singapore being the medical hub of the region, the BMDP shares in the responsibility of upholding this mantle by growing and maintaining the only local register of bone marrow donors as well as raising awareness for the cause.

Outside of work, Dr Loh is ever-passionate to combine her hobbies with meaningful events in the pursuit of making a difference in the lives of others. She is an avid marathoner who raises money for worthy causes such as the BMDP and consistently ranks among the top 10-20% of women participants at most 21/42km races.

“Other than running marathons, I decided to pick up cycling late last year and completed my first bike race – the OCBC Cycle Singapore 2013 to raise awareness and funds for needy transplant patients”, concluded Dr Loh. Now, who wouldn’t want a fighter in their corner – a doctor who pushes the envelope for her patients!

Dr Yvonne Loh (formerly the Medical Director of the Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant programme in SGH) depends on the BMDP to deliver matching donors for her patients from around the region.
Dr Yvonne Loh (formerly the Medical Director of the Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant programme in SGH) depends on the BMDP to deliver matching donors for her patients from around the region.
Tengboche Monastery (Original picture was taken by Kate Voss and obtained from blog.ucchm.org)

Trek to Tengboche

Tengboche Monastery (Original picture was taken by Kate Voss and obtained from blog.ucchm.org)
Tengboche Monastery (Original picture was taken by Kate Voss and obtained from blog.ucchm.org)

By the time you read this, Trek Dreams would already be on their way to the famous Tengboche Monastery (3,867m), nestled against the backdrop of Himalaya’s finest peaks. The monastery was destroyed twice but it still stands today – thanks to the help of volunteers from all over the world.

The BMDP too cannot stand alone. We need the help of everyone to chip-in and do their part. Trek Dreams is certainly doing us proud – every step they take, is a step closer to making a difference for every single patient in Singapore. Support them by donating here today!

Live your dreams – tell us about it and how we can work together. You bring the idea, we’ll lend our support.

Up close and personal with two of our transplant patients, Bryan (Centre) and Brendon

Reflecting on our 20 year mission

Up close and personal with two of our transplant patients, Bryan (Centre) and Brendon
Up close and personal with two of our transplant patients, Bryan (Centre) and Brendon

Many bone marrow donor registers around the world were established as the result of tragedy and likewise the BMDP which was set up after a Singaporean family lost a beloved son to leukaemia.

No matching bone marrow donor could be found for this one small boy and together with a group of doctors, the family made a commitment that no Singaporean should die without having at least the chance of a cure through a bone marrow transplant. That remains fundamental to our mission today.

A transplant offers a cure for many blood-related diseases including leukaemia, still the most common cancer and too many of us know people whose lives have been devastated by it. Yet we still cling to the belief that bad things happen to others so by the time we get the wake-up call, it’s too late to act.

We have shared a story of another Singaporean family whose lives were impacted twice as father and then the youngest son were diagnosed with a blood disease. They tell of a stark reality that we lose control and instead have to depend upon the generosity of strangers – unique individuals who did chose to act, signing up to donate blood and also life-saving bone marrow should they be a match for someone in the future.

In celebration of our 20 years, the BMDP has committed to recruit 20,000 donors onto the register in the next three years – but we cannot do it alone. Help us achieve this by spreading the word, ask your friends to sign up and please make a financial donation to help us pay for tissue typing our new donors. Both actions are just one click away.

From left: Vince; Maggie (mum); brother and leukaemia patient, William; Patrick (our late father); brother, Marvin; Marvin's wife, Vicky

The Kindness Of Strangers

From left: Vince; Maggie (mum); brother and leukaemia patient, William; Patrick (our late father); brother, Marvin; Marvin's wife, Vicky
From left: Vince; Maggie (mum); brother and leukaemia patient, William; Patrick (our late father); brother, Marvin; Marvin’s wife, Vicky

Donating bone marrow or blood? Crossed my mind once during National Service when it meant getting the rest of the day off. Since then, I’ve never thought about it again.

Fast forward 17 years and pursuing my dreams halfway across the world, donating my bone marrow couldn’t be further from my mind but the world changed for our family in October 2012. Back in Singapore, Dad was diagnosed with a low platelet count, his lymphoma having re-emerged after a 27-year remission and he urgently needed a transfusion. By the time he passed away in January 2013, he had at least 10 platelet and blood transfusions, thanks to anonymous donors.

Fate dealt another brutal blow that month when my youngest brother, William was diagnosed with leukaemia just two weeks before Dad passed away. It seemed so unfair and not supposed to happen to someone so young! William’s only 24 and starting his life.

We had spent the previous months shuttling between Singapore and the United States to visit our parents and now one of us needed help, and urgently. Mum stayed in Singapore to care for Dad and Marvin and I flew to Los Angeles where William was in good spirits but needed several blood transfusions because of his low red blood cell count.

Dad and William benefited from the generosity of total strangers who had voluntarily donated blood and platelets and we were uncomfortably aware that we’d never done anything like that. Medicine can be manufactured, but blood, platelets and bone marrow can only be donated by healthy individuals who volunteer out of kindness. William is in remission now after a month of chemotherapy, but he still needs a bone marrow transplant if he’s to win his battle against leukaemia.

The last few months forced us to take a long hard look at our priorities and we realise that the kindness of strangers is what brings hope to humanity and our shared fate shows how everyone has a part to play.

Marvin and I have since signed up to be bone marrow donors and we intend to be regular blood donors. Countless families have been granted more time together due to the selflessness of these unsung heroes and we hope that telling our story and spreading the message through friends and family will be able to move a few hearts and minds to support a worthy cause.

In closing, we would like to thank everyone for the encouraging messages and in Singapore the BMDP who have helped in our search for a match. https://www.facebook.com/supportwilliam and http://www.supportwilliam.com/!

(From left) Izrin Al-Edrus (BMDP Donor Services), our South African visitor and Search Coordinators, Lay Feng and Joei Zhang

Life-saving Gift from Singapore to South Africa

(From left) Izrin Al-Edrus (BMDP Donor Services), our South African visitor and Search Coordinators, Lay Feng and Joei Zhang
(From left) Izrin Al-Edrus (BMDP Donor Services), our South African visitor and Search Coordinators, Lay Feng and Joei Zhang

With the chance of a match between a patient and donor being only 1 in 20,000, the search for that one life-saving individual frequently goes worldwide. The BMDP reached another milestone this week when we provided our first match from a local donor for a patient in South Africa. Continue reading Life-saving Gift from Singapore to South Africa

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1 millionth blood stem cell transplant marks major medical milestone

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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.

CSR BMDP 2013

Looking for CSR ideas? Match for Life is the solution.

BMDP_CSR

Do you know that one in six people in Singapore are diagnosed with leukaemia or a similar blood related disease every day?

For some of them, their only hope is to have a bone marrow transplant and that is where we come in.

As Singapore’s ONLY bone marrow donor register, we find a matching donor for these patients. But with a 1 in 20,000 chance of being a match, we need more people to sign up. This year our Match For Life team aims to recruit 7,000 new donors but we can only do this with help from companies and organisations across Singapore.

HELP US by arranging a donor drive in your office – you bring the team and we’ll do the rest!

1. Share BMDP information via the intranet and office noticeboards – we’ve got the templates to share with you.

2. Book a meeting room –  possibly arrange a lunch time talk  – we’ll bring the speakers and the videos.

3. Set up tables for donor registration – it’s just a few moments to fill out a form and a simple cheek swab – and our staff will guide everyone through the process.

And to really help us – sponsor the staff who sign up and make a tax-free donation to cover the tissue typing costs at $150.00 per person.

Taking it further.
And if your team is excited to take a step further, organise a fundraising event for us or participate in a marathon for us this year.

Choose to be a hero, be a part of Match for Life.

To confirm a date for a donor drive or if you want to know more, please contact donor@bmdp.org.

Don’t forget to like us on our Facebook page!

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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