Jerene’s job requires her to do everything and anything when it comes to saving precious lives. Here’s what she has to say:
I’m potential donors’ liaison right from the start when they’re discovered to be a match.
I connect with them during an “Info Session” to empower them with a fountain of knowledge about the procedure for them to proceed confidently. A transplant is usually the last chance to recovery so I’ll share with them how their contribution can realise a patient’s hope of living. I’m also their support system, journeying with them from preliminary check-ups to easing tension on the actual day of donation to post-donation follow-ups.
Support from their loved ones is equally, if not, more important. So I’ll involve their families from the very beginning too. Without the reassurance from their nearest and dearest, many prospective donors find it difficult to continue with the donation. In 2016, 20% of the potential donors we approached declined to proceed simply because their families were not supportive of the procedure thanks to misconceptions about bone marrow donation.
I handled a case where a mother halted her son’s decision to donate, as she feared her son can’t have babies after the donation. Donating bone marrow doesn’t harm the reproductive system. Clearly, misconceptions are nothing but mistaken beliefs.
Other times, the stumbling block to donate could be rather unusual. I remember a time when I’d to relieve a likely donor of his parental duties to give him the freedom of time to persist with the donation. We often go beyond the call of our duty to demolish roadblock to donating to actualise every donation.
Witnessing human nature at its best is gratifying. Would-be donors’ genuine concern and their willingness to make an extraordinary contribution to total strangers for another chance at life remind me that there’s goodness in all of us. A taxi driver shed tears of joy when he was selected as a potential donor just before he reached the cut-off age of 60. He felt privileged for the opportunity to save a life.
The demise of patients before a bone marrow transplant can even happen is always disheartening. Delivering the news to the donors is met with obvious disappointment. They’ve come so far in the donation journey yet couldn’t donate. Then there’re cases where some patients didn’t survive despite a transplant. For those donors, the truth is even harder to reconcile. Many of them donated with optimism. Ultimately, they want to meet the patients who triumph over their illnesses. But when the opposite happens, I take on the role of a counsellor to reassure them that they did their best.
My time with BMDP has been truly enriching. Over the last two years, I’ve found it very meaningful to connect with people from all walks of life and to know that I play a role in saving lives makes it even more special.
Finding a match is really remarkable. Many people on the donor register may never get called up to contribute. So stay committed to donating after signing up. Your act of selfless kindness could mean so much to a patient and their family!
The 2-women team consisting of Jerene and Latha from the Donor Centre called up 191 donors for verification typing and facilitated 31 local donors through the donation process.