Breaking Barriers As A Bone Marrow Donor: 20-Year-Old Student From Singapore Saves Leukaemia Patient

Organ donation is either seen as a taboo or one of the biggest acts of charity in our society. Whatever the differences in opinions, I want to talk about the wonderful story of Ms. Noor Syafizah Mahadi. Not only is Noor Mahadi registered as the youngest bone marrow donor from the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP), but also already saved the life of a leukaemia patient!

Finding A Bone Marrow Match Depends On Slim Chances

A student from Singapore, Noor had signed up to the donor programme and had initially “forgotten” that she was on the list. One day during exam period, she received a phone call saying she matched with a leukaemia patient from overseas. Their survival without her bone marrow was slim to none since finding a bone marrow match outside one’s family amounts on low odds: 1 in 20,000 to be precise!

“Only A Little Painful”

Shocked, confused and undecided at first to go ahead with the procedure, Noor happily went ahead due to the huge encouragement from her friends and family. She donated her bone marrow and she recovered happily and successfully within one week because the body replenishes its own bone marrow. Mahadi was worried about pains or complications that could happen during the procedure, but afterwards said it was “only a little painful”. I am sure that “little painful” moment of hers was well worth saving a life!

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Race And Ethnicity Play An Important Role When Finding A Donor Match

This story shows how crucial it is for Southern Asians to register as a bone marrow donor. The BMDP has 81,543 donors on their register, but only 8% are Malays and 7% are Indians. “Having so few Malay and Indian donors on the register means that these patients are robbed of that one last chance, simply because of their race, and this is something that can definitely be changed if only more people of that ethnicity step forward,” said BMDP chief executive Jane Prior. A match is more likely to be found if the donor belongs to the same racial group as the patient.

A Bone Marrow Donor Myself

I am registered on a bone marrow registry and it only took 30 seconds of my time. The only thing necessary is a simple swab from your mouth! (It wasn’t that gross, trust me!) If something as simple as becoming a bone marrow donor can possible save someone’s life and help people in need, then I don’t know why we aren’t encouraged to join.

So, what is stopping you from registering?

This article is written by Zahra Rahman

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