Tag Archives: Bone Marrow

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.

Pregnancy and Bone Marrow Donation

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

There are women who ask us questions regarding pregnancy and bone marrow/stem cell donation so we decided to have a Q & A session with Dr Yvonne Loh to answer those questions.

Q: Can I register as a bone marrow donor if I am pregnant?
A: Yes, you can still register as a donor. However, you will not be allowed to donate during your pregnancy.

Q: What are the pregnancy-related risks?
A: You will not be allowed to donate stem cells while you are pregnant as the procedure may entail you undergoing general anaesthesia (for bone marrow donation) or receiving medications to increase your white blood cells (for stem cell donation) that have not been tested on pregnant women, and hence not proven safe for the foetus.

Q: Will a donation affect future pregnancies?
A: No, definitely not. The body will replenish the stem cells or bone marrow within a few weeks and there are no long-term side effects.

Q: How long do I need to wait after a pregnancy before I can donate my stem cells?
A: You should wait until shortly after delivery or after you have stopped breastfeeding.

Q: After delivery, should I consider donating my baby’s cord blood?
A: For any new parents, we do recommend they consider donating their baby’s umbilical cord blood as another way that they can help in the fight to save lives through stem cell transplantation. Similar to bone marrow, cord blood is rich in blood-forming cells that can be used to treat patients suffering from the various blood diseases such as leukaemia.  More details are available at the Singapore Cord Blood Bank website.

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/!

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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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BMDP sets up “Donor Centre” operation

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Izrin Al-Edrus, Donor Coordinator

“Please don’t be worried – it’s really just a little inconvenience”, urges Izrin Al-Edrus as he explains to different people from all walks of life how their actions today can actually save someone’s life.

As the donor register expands, more potential matches are being identified from our Singapore database. To support this activity, the BMDP has appointed Izrin to lead a new “Donor Centre” operation. This means that all new donor sign-ups, and those individuals who are identified as a match, have a dedicated Account Manager to work with and answer any specific enquiries they may have; and the usual concern is about what will actually happen during a donor “harvest”.

According to Izrin, “we have more BMDP donors undergoing Verification Typing today than at any other time and this is the credit to the amazing growth we have in the size of the register. Unfortunately, we still have a significant challenge that individuals are often not willing to carry through and make that life-saving donation when the time actually comes”.

The Donor Centre will also implement a buddy system where new donors can meet up and share their experiences with others who have already undergone a bone marrow stem cell harvest. Designed to provide support in overcoming any initial concerns, they can hear first-hand how this life-saving act was a defining moment for each of them and apart from some minor inconvenience; the experience has been a tremendously positive experience in their personal lives.

“It is an amazing experience to be able to find matching donors and to provide them with all the information they need to make that life-saving decision”, concluded Izrin.

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Awesome news!

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Good morning friends!

It’s been really exciting here at BMDP as we have received amazing news!!! As our dear running team trains hard for the marathon, we are glad to announce that North East CDC will be matching every donation DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR! So every donation you make here will now be doubled.

We truly hope that this opportunity will allow us to raise as much funds as we can to pay for tissue typing. This year, we are confident that we will reach our target of 5,000 donors, that means we will need to raise $750,000 – it costs $150 to tissue type each donor.

CLICK HERE NOW and donate generously, because it will be doubled! Your money is going to work harder!

p.s. All funds raised by the five runners will be matched dollar-for-dollar – huge thanks to North East CDC once again!

Meanwhile, here are our dear runners:

1. Ah Siao – Gerrard Lin (read our previous blogpost about him here)

You should have seen him in the news. If you haven't, here's news for you. Gerrard will be dragging a 14kg tire throughout the Full Marathon!
You should have seen him in the news. If you haven’t, here’s news for you. Gerrard will be dragging a 14kg tire throughout the Full Marathon!

2. Dr Yvonne Loh – Transplant Doctor (read our previous blogpost about her here)

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.
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.

3. Laura (click here to donate!)

Laura will be running her first half marathon this year, please show her your support!
Laura will be running her first half marathon this year, please show her your support!

4. Declan & Anne (read their story and donate here!)

Declan & Anne will be running together in support of BMDP!
Declan & Anne will be running together in support of BMDP!

5.Vivien Teo (read more about her story here)

Vivien is a bone marrow transplant nurse, and will be running in the half marathon in support of BMDP!

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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!

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Drag Tyre, Run Marathon, Save Lives!!!

Our dear Ah Siao charging the streets of Raffles Place, eagerly sharing about the BMDP and our life-saving works.
Ah Siao all geared up and charging the streets of Raffles Place, eagerly sharing the BMDP’s life-saving work with the public!

“If you try, go all the way – it’s the only good fight there is…” Strong words from a man who wants to be known as Ah Siao – the runner on a very special mission at this year’s Standard Chartered Marathon.

Ah Siao’s journey began just 5 weeks ago and now he is about to make history – running his first ever marathon and dragging a tyre at the same time – all in support of the BMDP.

“The runs are really torturous and I wanted to quit after my first training session with the tyre but then I think of the patients who need a bone marrow transplant to survive and all they can do is wait for the good news that a match has been found. That makes me even more determined to not only finish the marathon but to show the world that all it takes is courage and commitment,” said Ah Siao.

With only eight weeks to prepare for a full marathon, Ah Siao is pushing the limits by training twice a day, five days a week and clocking 100km in as many days. “The pain after each run is excruciating but here’s the thing; I can rest, re-fuel and be good to go the next day; but leukaemia patients do not enjoy that luxury,” shared Ah Siao.  “It’s the same for a bone marrow donor who has to put up with minimal discomfort but through that one act, they can save another person’s life. We have options; the patients do not.”

A volunteer for four years, Ah Siao appreciates the tremendous odds that the BMDP is working against to find donors;  plus with zero government funding, it’s a marathon effort to raise the funds needed to keep growing the register.  “The tyre symbolises the hard work and endurance people need to overcome any obstacle in life,” explained Ah Siao. “However, strength and endurance isn’t enough to save a leukaemia patient – a matching bone marrow is the only cure.”

Since it started, the BMDP has found a match for close to 500 patients and recruited 50,000 donors to the local register. But with the odds of a patient finding a suitable match being a whopping one in 20,000, some patients are simply running out of time and we urgently need more donors to come forward.  Neither righteous nor noble, Ah Siao simply wants to connect with one person at a time – to forward the BMDP’s life-saving cause and in his words, “the ancestor of an action is a thought. I want to plant this idea so we can fight not just one battle, but to win the war,” concluded Ah Siao.

Donatetoday and save a life tomorrow.

Like his Facebook Page, and check him out on STOMP!

Written by Francis

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