Tag Archives: Leukaemia

From left: Poon Wen Jie, Lee Jia Ling, Liong Kek Yee, Neo Bing Hui, Leong Mang Yew, Ng Yong Tian Adeline

Six Heroes, One Mission

From left: Poon Wen Jie, Lee Jia Ling, Liong Kek Yee, Neo Bing Hui, Leong Mang Yew, Ng Yong Tian Adeline From left: Poon Wen Jie, Lee Jia Ling, Liong Kek Yee, Neo Bing Hui, Leong Mang Yew, Ng Yong Tian Adeline

A group of six adventure-seekers are on more than a mission of discovery when they leave for Mt Everest tomorrow morning – they are all united to raise awareness and drive more people to sign up as bone marrow donors.

This once-in-a-lifetime trip was set up in memory of a mutual friend who lost the battle with leukaemia and they all felt this was one way they could pay tribute and at the same time bring hope to other patients in the future.

Follow their adventures through their blog as they climb to the Base Camp of the world’s highest peak and you can support them through making a donation.

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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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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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