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ARA calls for bone marrow donors


High-blood-pressureARA, a pan-African bone marrow and cord blood donor recruitment group has raised awareness on the shortage of bone marrow donors in the country, call for donations to the bone marrow registry in Nigeria.

Founder of ARA, which is also a volunteer initiative to combat blood cancers and sickle cell anaemia, Miss Ronke Babalakin who told newsmen on Monday, in Lagos, how the group came about, said that she was inspired by some friends who had suffered from blood cancer and was placed under Immunotherapy, but did not survive due to lack of availability of bone marrows.

She also collaborated with, the founder of Bone Marrow Registry in Nigeria (BMRN), Seun Adebiyi, which was founded in 2010 and a German group known as Delete Blood Cancer (DKMS) to fight the diseases.

According to her: “I got in contact with Seun Adebiyi, founder of Bone Marrow Registry in Nigeria (BMRN)) which was founded in 2010. He actually came to do a bone marrow drive because he had leukaemia at a time and he was lucky because he found a donor on time so today, he is healthy and strong because he got a donor on time. After awhile he agreed to partner with me and we got in contact with Delete Blood Cancer (DKMS) who happen to be Germans and are the largest bone marrow donor in the world with their headquarters in America and London. So I agreed to partner with them and be a representative in Nigeria and they decided to help with the first 2000 donors in which the whole donor recruitment process for each person is $100.”

Ronke who said the eligibility requirement for donation is between ages 18 and 45, and that one can donate twice in a lifetime further explained on how the test is carried out:

“Firstly, your cheek swab is taken and put in an envelope and transported to Germany. In Germany laboratory, Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) typing is carried out to find out what DNA your saliva is made up of and this is matched with your name and sent to BMRN. Once it is found that your DNA matches with someone in need you would need to go for a complete check up and once you are fine you would need to get to the Bone marrow transplant centre in Nigeria (when it is ready) but for now South Africa helps us with the transplanting to extract the bone marrows.”

Also, according to her statistics in the United States, 1 in 540 people donate bone marrow. The donor population in Africa generally is 0.006% of the entire population of Africa compared to the United States, which is 10.5million people in the bone marrow registry in America (BMRA) while in the U.K the comparable number, is 1.4% which is in their bone marrow registry.

“The total numbers of people on those registries are 68,222 where only 4,212 are blacks and only 347 of those people are Nigerians in the BMRN.

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