The World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA), representing 31 million donors from 55 different countries announced the celebration of World Marrow Donor Day (WMDD) for this year on September 15. It is a special day to thank all donors who have provided bone marrow transplant for a patient somewhere in the world, but also all people that ran to register as volunteer donors in their country’s archive. Karaiskakio Foundation has declared the whole month of September “Leukaemia Month,” organising a series of events, aimed at informing and making aware as many people as possible about leukaemia and bone marrow donation.
World Marrow Donor Association is a global volunteer organisation of bone marrow donor records and umbilical cord blood banks, aiming at world co-operation in relation to having a more effective process of finding and delivering allogeneic bone marrow transplants. Through the merging of dozens of donor records and the entry of their data into a central electronic file – the International Bone Marrow Donor Bank, offers patients from all over the world the ability to look for a compatible donor. Every year more than 50,000 patients from all over the world look for a compatible donor and for 50 per cent of them the compatible donor is from another country. The World Marrow Donor Day was established in 2015 and since then, on the third Saturday of September, every year, events are organised internationally by country donors’ archives, transplant centres, patient initiatives, volunteers, supporters etc.
Since the first bone marrow transplant in 1956, more than one million patients worldwide have undergone a transplant. Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed with blood cancer. Bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant is a life-saving treatment for more than 70 different illnesses, including leukaemia, lymphoma and thalassaemia.
“Bone marrow transplant does not look like any other medical treatment, since it is based on altruism and cooperation on a worldwide level. Every donor who registers as a volunteer is a spark of hope – not only for all those patients who are waiting for the coveted transplant, but for their families and friends who face for the first time a death threat,” said Carl-Heinz Mueller, president of WMDA.
The Karaiskakio Foundation is a non-profit organisation, which runs the Cypriot bone marrow donor archives. While setting a new dynamic vision … “for a world full of children’s smiles,” it tries to combine volunteerism and specialised scientific support, effectively serving directly the needs of patients with leukaemia and other haematological malignancies. It is a member of the WMDA since 2000 and one of the first archives in the world to receive accreditation from this organisation – in 2008.
In Cyprus, because of the country’s rich history, but also the frequent movement of the population, particularly in Mediterranean countries, there is a large genetic diversity in the population, further diminishing the probability of a patient finding a compatible donor. Moreover, the low birth rate that characterises our country further reduces the likelihood of patients finding a compatible donor.
• The Karaiskakio Foundation’s archive, with more than 160,000 registered volunteer bone morrow donors (Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots) is the largest in proportion to the population in the world.
• Until today, 450 donors of the Karaiskakio Foundation’s archive have provided a transplant to patients from 33 different countries.
The objective of the Cyprus Donor Archive is its constant renewal and upgrading, recording more and more volunteers of bone marrow donors… for a world full of children’s smiles!
For more information on the World Marrow Donor Day, visit https://worldmarrowdonorday.org
For the website of World Marrow Donor Association visit https://www.wmda.info/ and for Karaiskakio Foundation visit www.karaiskakio.org.cy.