50,000 more volunteers needed for bone marrow donor registry by 2018

SINGAPORE - The Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) hopes to recruit 50,000 new Singaporean donors by 2018 as part of Project Tomorrow, its largest recruitment drive ever.

At a press conference on Wednesday (April 20), BMDP said that by having more local donors, it aims to extend its commitment to find a donor for every patient who needs a transplant and to keep treatment affordable for those who do not have insurance support.

There are 62,000 people on the national register, which is connected to an international database, yet there is only one in 20,000 chance for a patient to find a match.

Project Tomorrow will also focus on Malay, Indian and other ethnic groups, as there is now a shortage of donors from these groups.

BMDP chief executive Jane Prior said having more Malay and Indian donors will raise the odds for people from these groups to get help. She said: "You are more likely to find a match within the race."

The register includes six per cent Malays and eight per cent Indians and BMDP aims to raise this to at least 12 per cent for each group by 2018, aligning the numbers to the national population ratio.

Those interested to sign up as a bone marrow donor can do so at www.projecttomorrow.com.sg and request for a cheek swab, which will be sent by post. Anyone between the ages of 17 and 49 and in good health can sign up as a bone marrow donor. You will be asked to donate bone marrow only if you are found to be a match for a patient.