By Stefanos Messios
The Karaiskakio Foundation has made September as ‘Leukaemia Month’ by organising a series of events, to inform and raise awareness among the public about leukaemia and bone marrow donation.
According to an announcement by the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA), which represents 39 million donors from 55 different countries, they have declared that World Marrow Donor Volunteer Day will be on September 18, 2021.
The WMDA is a global voluntary organisation of bone marrow donators and an umbilical cord blood bank, which works towards global collaboration for more efficient processes for finding and providing allogeneic bone marrow transplantation.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the WMDA has decided that the celebrations for World Donor Day shall be done online. A 24-hour livestream will be held on YouTube (https://youtu.be/lVwJp5hJDuM) on Saturday, September 18. Doctors, patients, and donors from all continents have prepared videos that will be shown during the livestream, with the hope of raising public awareness for leukaemia and to attract even more donors from around the world.
Since the first bone marrow transplant in 1956, more than a million patients worldwide have undergone a transplant. Thousands of people are diagnosed with blood cancer yearly. Bone marrow and/or umbilical cord blood transplants are lifesaving treatments for more than 70 illnesses, such as leukaemia, lymphoma and thalassemia.
The Karaiskakio Foundation has set a dynamic vision of “…a world full of childish smiles…”, working towards this vision by combining volunteerism and specialised scientific support. They have been serving effectively and directly the needs of patients with leukaemia and other sorts of haematological ailments.
Being a part of the WMDA since 2000, they are one of the first databases that have been accredited by them in 2008.
Cyprus, like most Mediterranean countries, has trouble identifying unrelated compatible donors due to its rich history and the frequent movements of the population around the area, resulting in a high genetic heterogeneity among Cypriots. The continuous low birth rates in Cyprus further reduces the chance of patients to find a compatible donor.
The foundation has over 187,000 registered bone marrow donors, (both Greek and Turkish Cypriots), which is the highest in terms of population worldwide.
To date, 650 donors to the Karaiskakio Foundation have given marrow for transplants to patients from 33 different countries.
The goal of the Cyprus Donor Archive is to constantly add more and more voluntary bone marrow donors.