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→
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.
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→
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.
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.”
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.
Every year we are invited to join the members and friends of Changi Golf Club after they finish one of their annual tournaments and most importantly, they always present the BMDP with a very generous donation to support our work.
So, thank you once again to the Changi team for the generosity and the loyalty – and also for inviting us to dine with you and share another great night under the stars beside the most famous beach in Singapore.
The Bone Marrow Donor Programme
8 Sinaran Drive #03-02 Novena Specialist Center Singapore 307470
Tel: (65) 6916 0370 Fax: (65) 6916 0371
Monday to Friday: 9.00 am – 6.00 pm Closed on Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays