More than 20 years after putting his details into Singapore's only marrow donor register, Mr Raphael Chong received the call of a lifetime - he was a match for a stranger waiting for a bone marrow transplant! The fear of the unknown (of both the patient's identity and the procedure) did not deter this father of three from agreeing to donate.
Donors can choose to go through either one of the two marrow donation methods, and both are safe and straightforward. In the Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) Collection, the donor's stem cells will be drawn from the blood stream. In the Bone Marrow Collection, the donor's liquid marrow will be extracted directly from the pelvic area. Whichever method the donor undergoes, the body will naturally replace the stem cells or bone marrow completely within 4 to 6 weeks.
Mr Chong underwent the PBSC method, where it was done in an outpatient setting and took between 5 to 7 hours. His blood was collected from one arm and passed through a machine that extracts the blood stem cells and returns all remaining blood to him through his other arm.
Contrary to common misconception, Mr Chong did not experience any health issues or long-term side effects following the donation.
He encourages the public to step forward and sign up as a donor.
At present, BMDP has only 115,000 donors in its register. There is an urgent need to increase this number, given how 50 patients in Singapore are waiting to find a match at any one time.
The BMDP team is committed to provide attentive care for marrow donors. Once a match is found with a local donor, the team walks through every step of the donation journey, as with how it was with Mr Chong.
If you are between 18 and 49 years old and are generally in good health, consider signing up as a marrow donor at https://bmdp.org/.
Adviser: Mayor Alex Yam
Editorial Team: Michael Lau, Sim Chuan San, Steve Luo, Eric Liu, Melvin Tai, Charlene Koh
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