“I signed up to be in a healthcare profession because I want to help people and save lives. If donating is another way for me to save lives, I will be very blessed and very honoured to be given the opportunity to do so”
There is a common misconception that the process of being a marrow donor is dangerous, but this is only because not many people are aware of what happens when you donate your bone marrow.
That was not the case for Joey Yeo.
Joey is among many other donors who went through with the Singapore Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP). On top of that, she is part of the National Women’s Bowling team.
She registered to be a donor when The National Women’s Bowling team made it an initiative and seven of them (including Joey) decided to sign up as a team.
She chuckled saying that she did not know what BMDP was about until she found out that she had a potential match 3 years later.
“I think at that point in time, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. To me, it was just like, ‘maybe it is like a blood donation.’ kind of thing ”
Initially, it caught her off-guard, considering that she signed up for it 3 years ago and it slipped off her mind. Through the readings and research did after getting her match, she was convinced that this procedure wasn’t going to be as intimidating as it seems and was motivated to go through with it.
To her, it doesn’t seem much but for the patient, “it means life”.
This procedure might have irked others but Joey was certainly not shying away from donating.
Her parents, on the other hand, were not too keen on her going for the procedure. She had to show them resources from BMDP and testimonies convincing them that the process was safe.
“I was not afraid. I am not one to be afraid of medical procedures and interactions. Stuff like that doesn’t scare me at all.”
Despite being eager to donate she admitted that she hesitated “like how you do before a big event.” Especially since about 5 days prior to her donation, she was given the opportunity to inject herself (to produce more stem cells and make them easier to collect.)
Her tactic in counteracting her hesitation was to put her thoughts and emotions into reassuring herself that nothing would go wrong.
“I mean bad things happen but you know the odds of that happening are really low even if you’re going in for a routine check, and generally this is a safe procedure. I know that I’m in good hands.”
She felt even safer as her whole donation process was very guided as the staff always made a point in checking in with her and reminding her that she has the right to say no at any given time.
Even after the procedure, her routine had gone back to normal and she went back to her regular training and activities and did not feel any sort of discomfort. Breaking the news to her teammates wasn’t an issue at all. Her teammates even congratulated her for taking up the responsibility and some of her friends even asked her about her donation to which she felt very happy to be able to advocate for BMDP and encourage more people to register.
Joey’s team has won a gold and bronze medal at the 2019 SEA Games while Joey is training towards the 2022 Asian Games so don’t be afraid to show her and her team some support by showing them some love on Singapore Bowling Federation’s Facebook page!
Having expressed her desire to help people and wanting to save lives, we asked Joey if she had any messages for the patient she had donated to and this is what she had to say:
“I hope I helped you. It didn’t take much out of me. So yeah, I’m glad I could help if it really did help”
BMDP stands for Bone Marrow Donor Programme and they started in 1993 with only one hospital that is able to offer transplants. They now manage Singapore’s only register of volunteer marrow donors and have highly specialised teams in place at six local hospitals all supported with the very best in facilities and infrastructure.
They offer an array of opportunities such as being a marrow donor, donating to support their work as well as volunteering opportunities and resources for donors, patients and caregivers.
Finding a matching marrow donor for a transplant is unfortunately not easy and the odds vary widely, depending on the rarity of the patient’s tissue type. As of now BMDP has 107,000 potential donors but if there were more there would be a higher chance for patients to find a match.
So if you haven’t registered yet you can register online here on BMDP’s website.
For a full explanation for the whole process, you can click here.
Be a Marrow Donor. Choose to save a life.