Donors flock to centres after marrow appeal

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 June, 2012, 12:00am
 

Donation centres received seven times more non-Asian bone-marrow donors in the last week than they usually get in a year after the international community turned out en masse to help a French man with leukaemia find a suitable match.

On Sunday, the day the Sunday Morning Post first reported Yvan C's plight, 22 non-Asians showed up Hong Kong Red Cross centres to register as potential bone-marrow donors. By Thursday, they had received 445 potential donors, far more than the 60 or so they get in a typical year.

The Hong Kong Bone Marrow Registry usually receives 300 to 400 new donor registrations a month, 97 per cent of which are Chinese.

About 85,000 names are listed on the registry, about 1.21 per cent of the population. The number of Asian donors remained steady at less than 10 per day. It peaked to 19 on June 4 and 24 on Tuesday.

Yvan, a 42-year-old father of two and Hong Kong permanent resident, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in mid-April. When they learned his relatives were not eligible to donate him bone marrow, Yvan's friends started a solidarity chain and reached out to international schools, chambers of commerce and sport clubs.

Their goal was to alert people about the dire need to get more non-Asian bone-marrow donors on the registry before the summer. Yvan, who is white, has the highest chance to find a potential donor within his own racial grouping.

According to the French Biomedecine Agency, the French public body in charge of organ donations, finding a suitable donor in the worldwide registry has a one in a million chance.

Yvan's friends set up a blog and a Facebook group where everybody who donated blood can then leave a comment and start a conversation with other people.

Beatrice Remy, who helps co-ordinate the campaign, hopes the movement will gather momentum.

'It really shows how people can help each other,' Remy said. 'Yvan's story has set a precedent.'

Volunteers handed out flyers on Stanley beach and Discovery Bay yesterday during the dragon boat training sessions. More information and blood donation centres locations can be found at http://bonemarrowhk.blogspot.hk/

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