Marrow Donation Options

I reached the Haematology Centre at 8.30am today to get my blood test done before the consultation appointment at 10.40am.

Brother later joined me for a Q & A session with Dr Ho about bone marrow transplant (BMT).

Before we begin, my doctor highlighted the presence of 0.25 blast in my blood which was not noticed a week ago. This is no small matter, as my doctor immediately scheduled a bone marrow examination around noon.

In our discussion, my brother was presented with two donation options:

1. Bone marrow – Donor is knocked out by general anesthesia and about 1 Litre of bone marrow is harvested in a 45 minutes to 1 hour operation. Possible general anesthesia risks, risk of puncturing the nerves, and pain could last for a week.

2. Peripheral Stem Cells – Donor is given granulocyte colony stimulating factor to increase stem cells production over a few days. The stem cells are then harvested by apheresis. There are two controversial studies on this method of harvesting – one reported that donor has a 5% chance of developing leukaemia in the future; the other study reported no such cases.

I could sense that my brother was worried about the risks involved. The decision to take on either option may have a long term impact in his life. I am deeply concerned about the pain or sufferings he may have to go through to save me. I am indebted to him for life.

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