Tag Archives: Donor


The Real Deal

Martin Thoo, Honorary General Secretary, BMDP

As the saying goes, “for many are called, but few are chosen”. In 1993, Martin Thoo, a young junior college student, took up the call to action and signed up with the BMDP as a volunteer bone marrow donor. “It just seemed like the right thing to do,” explained Martin. How many of us can put our hands up and say yes, we did our part for society at age 17 or 18 and will give willingly when the time comes?

Several years later, a grown-up Martin kept his promise and gave the ultimate gift anyone can give – a gift of life. Looking back, Martin never once hesitated in donating his bone marrow; and he will do the same if called upon today. “We must never take for granted that someone else will respond to the call; every step no matter how small, must begin with us,” said Martin.

“Seeing the BMDP progress every year and that my contribution has made a difference drives me to give my all. Being the Honorary General Secretary may sound mundane, but I enjoy it!” exclaimed Martin.

Viewing his commitment to the BMDP more as a calling instead of a responsibility is a telling factor of this man’s mission – touching lives. The BMDP is in urgent need of donors and funding – the lifeblood of patients at the various transplant hospitals in Singapore.

Martin concludes, “I hope that the BMDP will one day become the donor register hub of the region; to give hope to those who have none”.

Reza standing tall, fully recovered from leukaemia thanks to the bone marrow transplant from a willing donor.

Donor saved boy’s life and kept his passion alive

Reza standing tall, fully recovered from leukaemia thanks to the bone marrow transplant from a willing donor.
Reza standing tall, fully recovered from leukaemia thanks to the bone marrow transplant from a willing donor.

Imagine –  soccer was Reza’s passion, and representing the school team in a tournament was his dream. However, life is unpredictable and Reza was diagnosed with leukaemia just days before Christmas.

While the world celebrated, he had to spend all the holiday season in a hospital bed and almost worse than that, his hopes of representing the school team the following year were also dashed.

For Reza, life had just come to a juddering halt and the future seemed to be an endless lineup of hospital visits, tests and loneliness – until that fighting spirit kicked in.

Reza stayed strong and with support from the rest of the family, underwent chemotherapy while all the time waiting for a suitable donor to be found. Without a bone marrow transplant, Reza’s future was just 3 years of chemotherapy and pretty bleak so it was great news when just 7 months later the BMDP found a suitable match for Reza. “Such a kind person! they don’t even know me, yet are willing to donate”, Reza expressed, “I would kneel down and bow and say thank you very very much”.

Not only did the donor save Reza’s life, but once again he has the opportunity to continue pursuing his dream. Healthy and fit, life is back to normal – soccer, friends and everything that can fit into another day of being alive.

Donating bone marrow is a minor inconvenience and discomfort – but the impact is permanent and life-changing. Be a donor, you can save a life.

Saad Chinoy during a recent video interview session to kick-off the Match for Life launch event.

Couldn’t save his own brother, signed up to save someone else’s

Saad Chinoy during a recent video interview session to kick-off the Match for Life launch event.
Saad Chinoy during a recent video interview session to kick-off the Match for Life launch event.

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?

Bryan together with his donor, Shi Hong, and brother, Brendon, who also got a bone marrow transplant in July 2007.

Four years ago a total stranger stepped forward to save a small boy

Bryan together with his donor, Shi Hong, and brother, Brendon, who also got a bone marrow transplant in July 2007.
Bryan (left) together with his donor, Shi Hong, and brother, Brendon, who also had a bone marrow transplant in July 2007.

It’s four years since Bryan’s life was saved by a total stranger and finally he got to meet his superhero.

For final year engineering student Lim Shi Hong, it was real proof that donating his bone marrow – something that just took a little time and some discomfort  – had changed the world for an entire family and allowed one brave young boy to live.

Sign up as a bone marrow donor, help someone live!

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The year at a glance…

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.

BMDP 2012 updates


Have YOU signed up!

Above: Our Fun Pin-Badges will be up for sale at our Match for Life events – REAL SOON!

Our Match for Life campaign will kick off at Hill & Knowlton Strategies’ on 1 October 2012 and throughout the rest of the month we’ll be rolling out at Citibank, SIngTel, GIC,  Diageo and Rodyk and Davidson- to name a few.

If your organisation – or even your team – are keen to support our massive one-month donor recruitment initiative, then call us and get signed up.

Living up to our mission to find a donor for every patient, we aim to recruit AT LEAST 3,000 new donors during the month of October but we can’t do it alone. For small companies with less than 100 staff, a Match For Life event is a great way to build engagement and also get involved with a bigger mission supporting a life-saving local cause that plays out on a global stage.

Details of all donors are made available through a global network but the hunt for that perfect match always starts at home – and so the more Singaporean donors we have, the better chances of finding a match for our local patients.

Match for Life is a collaboration between the BMDP and the corporate sector and aims to take advantage of the communications infrastructure within each organisation to reach out and educate staff on the role they can play in saving a life.

Sharing a short video online can inform and inspire – and that’s what it’s all about. After all, how many people can say they signed up today to save a life.

Match for Life – JOIN US!

Signing up as a donor only takes a few minutes but the decision to donate is a commitment that could mean the difference between life and death.

Standing from left to right: Xinying, Sheena, Kaiqi, Viola Seated from left to right: Nathaniel, Jane, Roxanne

Team Compass-ion Communications visits the BMDP!

Standing from left to right: Xinying, Sheena, Kaiqi, Viola Seated from left to right: Nathaniel, Jane, Roxanne
Standing from left to right: Xinying, Sheena, Kaiqi, Viola; Seated from left to right: Nathaniel, Jane, Roxanne

Enthusiasm, creativity and proactivity – mix them and you get “Compass-ion Communications” – the Murdoch University team who adopted BMDP as a graduation project. In a quick chat with these bubbly characters – all of whom admitted to know nothing about bone marrow donation when they started out – have learned a lot to date and are keen advocates for the cause.

“We chose to represent the BMDP because their mission to save lives touched us deeply,” said Nathaniel Lee, the team spokesperson, “and we felt there were so many opportunities to reach out to the public”.

The team presented their detailed communications plan to the BMDP on the back of research they had done at a community level. “We wanted to enhance the BMDP’s communication channels to better reach out to potential donors and volunteers plus the mission needs all the help it can get in obtaining funds,” said Nathaniel.

“Jane provided us with constructive feedback and we are eager to refine our plan. The BMDP is a tremendous cause and through this association, we hope to not only give them some useful tools and ideas – but also get a boost in our own careers” said Nathaniel.

Spot on guys! Watch out for the Compass-ion Communications video – coming soon!

The team is scheduled to present their plan at the Project Reach conference on 3rd August at the EDB Learning Centre as well as submit a report for grading under their Campaign Management module at Murdoch University.

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Singapore Bone Marrow Register adjusts age limit for donors

Bone Marrow Donor ProgrammeWith older adults being fitter and healthier in recent times, raising the age limit of donors to 60 years of age will give the donor register a huge boost

Singapore, 10 July 2012
– The Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) today announced a revision in the age limit for volunteers to donate their bone marrow to non-related patients suffering from leukaemia, lymphoma and other blood-related diseases. With immediate effect, any donor on the register will now be eligible to donate up to the age of 60 years (from 55) which brings the BMDP in line with major registers in the UK and the US.

A Singapore charity, the BMDP builds and manages Singapore’s only register of volunteer bone marrow donors and also provides a 365-day service to support the local transplant hospitals looking for a match for their patients. The register currently has around 50,000 volunteer donors. Every year, the BMDP targets to add another 5,000 donors to increase the odds of finding a match; this is just 1 in 20,000 in the general population of the same racial group.

According to BMDP President, Jane Prior, “We are re-defining the barriers imposed by age in every aspect of society and our announcement today is very much aligned to this. Older adults today are fitter and more health-conscious, and by adding five years to the availability of each donor, we are providing a tremendous boost to our local register as a source of life-saving bone marrow or stem cells for transplant.”

To join the BMDP register as a volunteer bone marrow donor, any individual in good health, between the ages of 18 and 49, provides a small DNA sample through a simple cheek swab and consents to having their sample tissue-typed and then being added to the BMDP database. Only if a donor is identified as a match for a patient, will they actually be asked to donate their bone marrow or blood stem cells. Tissue-typing each donor costs S$150.00 which has to be covered through public donations and fund-raising. In this context, the younger the donors are when they join the register, the longer the lifetime value they represent to the patients.

A bone marrow transplant is becoming a preferred treatment for many blood diseases and the work of the BMDP is escalating year-on-year. In the first 6 months of this year alone, more than 200 requests were submitted by the local hospitals to find a match for their patients. Bone marrow or blood stem cells were delivered to 29 patients between January and July from donors sourced through the local BMDP register or from a partner register around the world.

About the Bone Marrow Donor Programme
Established in 1993, the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) is a non-profit organisation 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 with leukaemia and other blood diseases and who need a transplant to survive. The BMDP also provides a 365-day service to the local hospitals to search the local register in search of a match and where necessary extend this to partner registers around the world. To date 50,000 donors have registered to be on the database and the BMDP has facilitated more than 420 transplants. To improve the odds of finding a match, the BMDP aims to increase the register by 5,000 new donors each year. More information is available at www.bmdp.org
The MacFadden Family

My Inspiration

The MacFadden Family
The MacFadden Family

So what exactly goes on behind the scenes in the life of a BMDP committee member? I spoke with Declan MacFadden – loving husband, doting father, leading executive and dedicated committee member of the BMDP – about his vision and what inspired him to embark on this journey.

With six wonderful children, a successful career and opportunities to travel and see the world, Declan led a fulfilling life.  Until one day, several years ago, all this fell apart when his youngest son was diagnosed with leukaemia. “It felt like a death sentence at that time,” says Declan.

“Nothing I knew, none of my business capabilities or family experience, could help. The feeling of powerlessness was overwhelming,” he adds.  “Our desperate search for assurance and help was met by the wonderful staff at NUH and BMDP who helped me and my family through that terrible time.  I will never be able to thank them enough – not only for their medical expertise but for the emotional support, counsel and factual information they provided.  The BMDP team includes  leading transplant surgeons as well as people who have gone through the same awful experience, so they are eminently qualified to shine a light on the darkest time a family can face.”

Declan’s son went through a successful transplant and is now a strapping young man of 17 years.

Emerging from this traumatic ordeal strengthened Declan’s resolve to help families who are facing the same situation.  “I am driven, at the deepest level,” says Declan, “to do all I can to make sure other kids get the chance that my child was given, and that other families are sustained by the same support that BMDP provided to mine.”

Declan describes his commitment to the BMDP as a  cause in which he can exercise his vision of supporting sufferers, educating the public, increasing the register of donors and raising the funds so urgently needed for tissue typing tests.

Not one to mince his words, he said, “We need to be consistent in our work for BMDP every day of the week, every day of the year because we do not know when we will be called upon – morning, noon or night – to provide a matching donor for some youngster who is in pretty desperate shape.  We can never forget that BMDP is in the business of saving lives, and I feel privileged to play a part in this remarkable organisation.