HomeHealth For YouHow willing are you to donate your bone marrow?

How willing are you to donate your bone marrow?

3 ways to donate marrow: Bone marrow donation, peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation or via cord blood donation. Source. www.bethematch.org

Every year, 500 people in Singapore require a bone marrow.

bone marrow info

transplant. But despite bone marrow donation and transplantation being the most effective treatment for blood cancers like leukemia, only 10% of those in need ever receive a match. A recent study by fourth-year medical undergraduates at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine sought to find out the personal approaches and factors that make Singaporeans for and against bone marrow donation. 

Led by A/Prof Mikael Hartman, the team conducted qualitative and quantitative studies on their participants. 

The study identified several common themes brought up by participants. There was a general lack of understanding about bone marrow donation and the donation process, and significant misconceptions regarding bone marrow donation. Some expressed a fearful attitude towards bone marrow donation, while others noted that such an act of helping others was a positive and noble aspect.

The group also conducted a survey on residents at Punggol, Sengkang and Duxton, which found that while 79% of respondents were aware of bone marrow donation, only 16% felt that they have sufficient information to make an informed decision and only a mere 5% have registered to donate their bone marrow.

Factors such as fear of pain, fear of long-term health effects and perceived burden toward family affected participants' willingness to donate. On the other hand, those who indicated their willingness to donate cited past acts of generosity such as having donated blood and volunteering as well as the belief of reciprocity as reasons which motivated to donate.

Relooking approaches and policies

Race, religion, marital and childbearing status surfaced as factors affecting perception of bone marrow donation. To increase sign up rates for bone marrow donation, a follow up approach could be targeted at those who had already been educated previously and may have considered registering, as well as those who have previously volunteered their time, money and other acts of giving.

Interestingly, while television and other mass media were the most common source of information for participants, they were perceived to be lower in credibility, thus might not be the most effective method of communication. On the other hand, direct outreach with a face-to-face approach was a less common source of information, but perceived more favourably. Hence, organisations can consider relooking their outreach mediums when communicating with audiences.

More support could also be made available to reduce family burden, especially for those who are married and have children.

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