I am a Bone Marrow donor

What can $580,000 buy you in Singapore?
Apartment, car, holiday, maybe happiness?

What if I tell you this donation can buy HOPE?

Last week, I attended a media event to raise awareness for Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP). For someone stricken with blood disorders like leukemia or lymphoma, sometimes the only cure is a direct bone marrow transplant. $580,000 means tissue typing is available for almost 4,000 potential marrow donors.

We honour the brave donors from left Sharlini , Chin Sheng, and Dr Yvonne.

And we pay compliments to the gala committee for raising fund for BMDP.

Who is BMDP?
Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) is an organisation which provides a life line for those affected by blood disorder. Headed by Jane Prior (President), I quote “BMDP is in the Business of Miracles“. BMDP match patients to potential bone marrow donors, globally.

Currently, Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) has a registry of 50,000 volunteers, and BMDP hopes to get 5,000 potential donors for 2012.
More volunteers, more chances of finding a match.

Watch this video to understand more about bone marrow Harvesting and Transplant

I am not a doctor, but you can get most of the medical definitions translated to English at BMDP’s Glossary page –> http://www.bmdp.org/glossary.php#b

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Why would you want to be a bone marrow donor?

What happen if we are struck with disease, and the doctor give us an “expiry” date of months or years. How would we feel? It will be depressing because a child will lose his adulthood, or a parent will lose the opportunity to watch his kids grow up.

As Gerti mentioned, Leukemia does not distinguish it’s victim. It strikes anybody, the young, the old, the fit, the poor and the rich. It is especially heart aching when young kids are affected. Kids who should be enjoying the great outdoors or studying, but are instead confined in hospital wards 🙁

From young, my Mum has urged me to be a useful person (做好人). If we have the opportunity to help or save someone, would you volunteer yourself ?

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How can you register as a donor?

1. Contact BMDP
2. Get your DNA sample via a buccal swab (photo of pretty model above)
3. Your DNA sample undergoes tissue-typing and your name will be registered with BMDP

Three simple steps, and I quote BMDP :
“To the world, you are one person, but to the person that you help, you are the ONE.

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How is bone marrow extracted from the donor?

There are two methods of extracting bone marrow from a donor.
– Direct extraction from the pelvic area, via GA (general anaesthesia)
– Peripheral blood stem cell, just like normal blood donation

We heard only 5% of marrow is extracted, and our body will replendish the bone marrow within days. For option (i), there might be a bit of discomfort (numbness) around the pelvic area, but a donor is likely to get back to his usual exercise routine within weeks.

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My donor experience

In 2002, my bone marrow recipient was a young boy, let us call him M.
He is from Malaysia PJ.

[Potential donor and recipient cannot meet each other until one year after transplant]
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I secretly heard from the ward nurses that he was just like any other bubbly kids, 13 years old, full of life and energy. M was a brave and cheerful chap.

I just got married ten years ago, and perhaps I could not understand the parents’ anguish back then. But after becoming a parent myself, you hope no child has to undergo all the needles and chemo treatments 🙁

[Perhaps that is the reason why it takes me ten long years to tell my story now.]
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I met M and his family one year after his transplant. He looks healthy, and I was truly happy that I have given someone a second chance. Alas M suffers a relapse, and succumb to his illness. I felt sad, and maybe guilt, that my bone marrow could not save M.

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In our own small way, we can make a difference.
Although M is no longer with us today, we take heart that he went down fighting and did not want to give up. I really hope donors will have the power to give HOPE and a second chance to a patient.

For donors who are concerned about possible side effects of being a donor, I offer the analogy of child birth to describe my experience. I was present during all my kids’ delivery, and I am still in awe of how my wife (and all mothers) withstand the pain to deliver our babies.

… the minimal discomfort we experienced from a direct pelvic marrow extraction is No where near our women’s sacrifices.

If you need more information on the procedures, or if you have more doubts, I am sure team BMDP will be glad to answer your queries. Let no needles, nor myths, or the scary “unknown” stop you from making the right choice.

Someone mention a possible loss of vitality, but hey, look at me, a happy father with four active kids. I feel younger each day. There is nothing more rewarding than to be given the opportunity to save a life.

We can, and we should raise more awareness about bone marrow transplant. Let more people step forward, let HOPE shines brighter.

sincerely yours,
Andy Lee

ps.. Daddy is sharing more info about BMDP (FAQ and Procedures) and Bone Marrow story at this page

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Additional information
Photo credits to BMDP fanpage

You an reach BMDP at their blog or fanpage.
– More questions? Refer BMDP’s FAQ.

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Author: SengkangBabies

I am a Blogging Daddy of four. Our kids are roaming Singapore to bring you FUN, This blog is use to capture our kids' growing up phases, and we want you to leave our blog with a smile :)

6 thoughts on “I am a Bone Marrow donor”

  1. Wow admire your courage to donate your bone marrow! I’ve been on the donors list for many years now & hope I’ll have the courage to do it too when my turn arrives! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

    1. You are most welcome Madeline, to sign up as a volunteer is already a major milestone 🙂
      When I donated ten years ago, there was no marrow experience from an “Asian” perspective.
      So you do not know what will happen, before, during and after. The “unknowns” can spook us haha.

      But since then, marrow transplant has become more widespread, and awareness has improve.
      When the time comes, we still need to explain the scenario with our family members and seek their blessings 🙂

  2. great writeup. cannot believe i know the guy in red shirt. his name is spelled as “chin”, the news articles posted online carries this spelling as well i believe.

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