Find me a match, save a life

Ms Jane Prior, President of Bone Marrow Donor Programme, with the group of NJC students and volunteers from RP and SMU.
PHOTO: Find me a match, save a life

SINGAPORE - They might have received stares from curious onlookers, but four girls dressed in bridal gowns braved the heat to look for that "special someone" at Raffles Place yesterday.

Using this analogy, they were trying to draw attention to a more sobering fact.

With the odds of finding a bone-marrow donor being one in 20,000, it is perhaps more difficult to find a bone-marrow match than to randomly find that "special someone" on the streets of Singapore.

Even after a match is found, some potential donors back out, said Jane Prior, honorary president of the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) - Singapore's only registry of bone-marrow donors.

Over here, six Singaporeans are diagnosed each day with a blood disease and many of them will die without a bone-marrow transplant. Leukaemia, or blood cancer, is also a leading cause of death for children.

"Blood cancer is not a lifestyle disease. It can come out of nowhere and can hit anybody at any time," said Ms Prior.

"For patients who don't get a match, it's like starving to death because you can't get inside the supermarket. We have well-qualified teams to do bone-marrow transplants and the infrastructure is here. It's just that one missing link (the donors)."

Last year, there were 452 search requests - from both local and overseas patients - but only 45 got a transplant.

An 18-year-old boy was keen to donate his bone marrow to a match, but his parents objected.

"His mother felt that it wasn't appropriate for him, given that he was going to start a new job in a few months," said Ms Prior. "I hope that we can find the patient another donor."

Yesterday's event was an effort aimed at raising awareness and donations for the BMDP.

There are 40,000 donors on the register and they hope to get another 4,000 donors on board by December this year.

Under Citi-YMCA Youth For Causes - a community initiative started by Citi and the YMCA of Singapore - a group of National Junior College students adopted BMDP as their choice of charity and took about two months to plan the event.

The team hopes to reach its fund-raising target of $15,000.

Funds raised will go towards paying for the costs of adding new donors to the register.

Get MyPaper for more stories.