Regional NGO begins drive for bone-marrow donors

| 16/06/2016
CNS Local Life

A young Caribbean bone-marrow registry patient

(CNS): With only 400 people in the entire Caribbean region who are registered bone-marrow donors, a regional non-governmental organisation is launching a Caribbean-wide donor drive aiming to boost the numbers of registered people to 1000 by the end of this year. Arthur Dunk, the Caribbean Bone Marrow Registry Director, said a bone marrow transplant is the only hope of a cure for some people suffering from blood cancers, or autoimmune and other blood diseases.

Speaking about the 400 registered donors in the region, he said that “we significantly need to increase these numbers to give our friends and family suffering from sometimes terminal blood and auto-immune diseases a fighting chance.”

Given the melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, along with distinct and unique genetic makeups, it can be difficult for those needing a donor to find a match, he explained. “The more people we can add to the registry the greater the chance these sick people have at fighting their diseases,” Dunk said in a press release. “We have a population of nearly 40 million people in the Caribbean but only 400 people on our registry. We need to realise the significance of this shortfall and come together as a region to try and help save lives.”

The registry has started a marketing effort to rebrand, through Cayman communications agency, Tower, which includes a new logo, and a refreshed website and Facebook page.

It has also launched the drive against the backdrop of two Cayman Islands events that supported the initiative.  The Flowers family is donating proceeds from the Flowers Sea Swim held Saturday, 11 June to cover the usual donor-registration fee and encourage more people to join the registry.

Cayman resident Tash Macfayden, who became involved with the registry after she was diagnosed with a related disease, said the donation would mean those who can’t pay the $75 donor-registration fee could still offer to donate. She added that Eve Flowers, in whose memory the Flowers Sea Swim was held, recently passed away from leukaemia after failing to find a suitable donor.

“We are so grateful to the Flowers family for their support which will make achieving our goal of 1,000 donors by the end of the year so much more achievable,” said Macfayden.

The initiative also received the support of Rotaract District 7020, which provided the registry a chance to address those 130 members attending its conference last week in Cayman, while also offering free donor registration that involved a quick and painless mouth swab. Following the conference, the participants were able to take the message of donor registration back to their own island nations.

Those in Cayman looking to register as a donor on the Caribbean Bone Marrow Registry can visit the Cayman Islands Cancer Society at 114 Maple Road, in front of the Cayman Islands Hospital, or phone 949-7618

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Category: Medical and Health

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