8th December 2019
SIBU – In efforts to increase the probability of finding matching donors for patients suffering from blood related diseases in Malaysia, especially in Sarawak, the Sarawak Children’s Cancer Society, in collaboration with Sibu Cancer Care Society and Rejang Medical Centre, will be organising a Blood Stem Cell Donor Drive. The drive will run for 2 days and will be held at Rejang Medical Centre (conference room) on Saturday, 14th December, 2PM to 5PM, and on Sunday 15th December, 9AM to 12PM. To supplement the drive, an educational talk on stem cell donation and given by medical doctors will be held on Friday, 13th December, 7PM at Level 7 and 8 of Wisma Hua Wen Du Zhong, in both English and Mandarin. It is hoped that at least 150 Sibu donors will register at this event.
Sarawak Children’s Cancer Society has hosted 4 donor drives this year, with 195 sign ups, and is working in collaboration with the Malaysian Stem Cell Registry (MSCR) in Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur to increase the number of blood stem cell donors in Sarawak, as part of the Society’s mission to provide care and support for childhood cancer patients. MSCR was established is the result of a collaboration between Institute for Medical Research (IMR), Ministry of Health and National Cancer Council (MAKNA) since 2000, and is essentially a database of volunteers in the Malaysian community who are open to donate blood stem cells to matching patients needing blood stem cells transplantation.
The increasing number of patients suffering from blood-related diseases (such as leukaemia, aplastic anaemia, lymphoma, etc.) each year has resulted in greater need for blood stem cells transplantation for the treatments. Blood stem cells are the main blood cells responsible in producing other blood components such as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. The blood stem cells transplantation from healthy individuals to patients suffering from blood-related diseases can help patients to recover and become healthy again.
However, to proceed further with the blood stem cell transplantation, the donor’s blood stem cell should have compatible Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) with the patient. The HLA compatibility between donor and patient is influenced by genetic factors. Only 30% of patients have HLA compatibility among their siblings, making them eligible for blood stem cell transplantation. The remaining 70% need to find matching HLA from unrelated donor in blood stem cells volunteer database such as Malaysia’s MSCR or from other databases and registries abroad. Once a match is found, the donation of blood stem cell is carried out via the peripheral blood vessel (apheresis method). Blood is taken from the donor, with a machine that separates the stem cells from the blood for transplant, whereas the remaining blood component is then re-infused to the donor.
Individuals who want to volunteer as a blood stem cell donor should be a Malaysian citizen aged between 18 to 50 years old, healthy and free from any chronic diseases. To date, there are 33,450 registered volunteers in MSCR and only 1500 out of that number are of Sarawakian ethnicity. Due to the diversity of race and intermarriage among Malaysians, the probability of finding a matching donor for a patient is very low, especially for patients from Sarawak as the volunteers of Sarawakian ethnicity account for only about 4% of the number of existing volunteers.
Therefore, Malaysian citizens, especially Sarawakians, are highly encouraged to pledge themselves as potential blood stem cell donors to increase the percentage in finding a compatible donor for patients from Sarawak.
Should a donor be a match for a patient, they will be contacted by MSCR to confirm the donation. The donor will undergo further briefing & counselling as well as physical examination. If the donor is not living in Kuala Lumpur, the donor will be flown out to Kuala Lumpur. All expenses including air fares, meal allowance & accommodation are borne by MSCR. When the donor arrives to the hospital (either Hospital Ampang or Hospital Kuala Lumpur), the donor will be given GSCF hormone via injection for three (3) days before stem cell collection. A maximum total of 5 days is required to complete the process.Members of the public can also find out more information at the stem cell donor drive, and talk.
SCCS would like to express its deepest appreciation to the following parties for their contribution to this event: Sibu Cancer Care Society, Rejang Medical Centre, and medical officers of Sarawak General Hospital Sibu Hospital, and the Malaysian Stem Cell Registry.
For more information, please contact the Sarawak Children’s Cancer Society office at 082-686276 (office hours) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. One can also register as a member of MSCR by contacting the officer in MSCR by email: email@example.com or phone: 03-26162790/ 2780.