In an emotional meeting, a young woman struck down by leukaemia told the stranger who saved her life that words cannot express the extent of her gratitude.
From graduation to devastation
At the Bone Marrow Donor Programme office, Narita met her donor Jeth Ng for the first time since the lifesaving transplant of his donated stem cells in April 2014. Just three months before the transplant, Narita had come down with what she thought was flu while completing her final college project.
Still unwell 3 weeks later, a series of tests showed that Narita had an aggressive form of leukaemia and her only hope was to have a bone marrow transplant.
Now 24 years old, Narita shared how terrified she was after her diagnosis. She was lying in a hospital bed hoping to survive when all she really wanted was to go away on the holiday she had planned with a group of friends to celebrate their graduation. Despite that, she was most hopeful on the day of her stem cell transplant – feeling that she was reborn, and had a fighting chance – all thanks to a stranger’s bravery and selflessness. Continue reading Born again through the kindness of a stranger→
Thank you to everyone who has worked with us over the past months – signing up, organising donor drives and sharing the BMDP mission with friends and colleagues that everyone has “the power to save a life”.
With your support we reached our 2012 target TODAY with 5,000 new donors all signed up to the BMDP register bringing us several steps closer to delivering on our promise to find a donor for every patient.
Aven Lim, Business Analyst from Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals was our 5,000th donor for the year – and he got first-hand congratulations from another new donor, Marcus Yim, MD of Bayer South ASEAN.
Many thanks to Bayer for hosting today’s event and also for generously sponsoring the cost of tissue typing each of your staff who signed up. Also, thank you again to all our other partners who have supported the Match For Life campaign over recent months; from the universities and polytechnics, the global and local partners – none if this would have been possible without your belief, encouragement and buy-in to our cause.
CONGRATULATIONS to all our Match For Life team and our extended family of BMDP donors. Roll on 2013 – another target and more lives to save.
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!
“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.
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.
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?
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.
People ask me all the time about my involvement with the BMDP – and I explain that my son had a transplant after being diagnosed with one of the more difficult types of leukaemia. Where the diagnosis offered only one choice; to have a transplant.
We were lucky to find a matching donor in Australia and a decade and a half later, Daniel has a degree, a job and things are good. For me, life these days is all about building for the future – adding names to the BMDP donor register, chasing up potential matches for our patients and making sure we have the funding to grow.
So, it was a lightning bolt at the weekend’s “Hair for Hope” when a voice spoke out of the blue, “Jane, great to see you… but I guess you don’t remember me?”
I didn’t immediately recognise him – it was a long time ago when I had a child with cancer and a distinctly younger CCF volunteer – and now their Honorary Secretary, Ho Cheng Huat – was one of Daniel’s “minders” at Camp Rainbow. Reflecting back since the weekend’s chance meeting, I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to remember those days; dashing between hospital, home and office; juggling three children and working with Daniel as he stoically faced up to the innumerable tests and procedures. We rationalized it as our own personal NS – bad-hair or no-hair days, boots on, don’t ask and just do it!
I learned a great deal from those months. Daniel gave back to me all the courage that I ever tried to give to him; the generosity of friends from nowhere and everywhere who helped in small unobtrusive ways, who sent us hats and the others who beat a drum for us.. Most of all, it was about tenacity – being brave enough to never doubt that this was anything more than a tunnel – with light and friendship along the way and surprisingly a lot of laughter amid the anguish – but definitely a tunnel with an end in sight.
So I guess this is my small salute to all of today’s parents of children with cancer – doing their own NS routine. You must know there are so many people out here all shouting out for you and your amazing children – we’ve got 50,000 of them all signed up to give their bone marrow if it’s needed – and after this weekend, there are a lot of shaved heads all giving and growing their support.
Daniel Prior was NUH’s first paediatric Bone Marrow Transplant in 1996
The Bone Marrow Donor Programme
8 Sinaran Drive #03-02 Novena Specialist Center Singapore 307470
Tel: (65) 6916 0370 Fax: (65) 6916 0371
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