United Stand on Bone Marrow Donation Across all Religious Teachings
This generous young woman signed up to be a volunteer donor after watching BMDP donor testimonies at her school. “I thought how amazing it must feel to be able to help save someone’s life,” she said.

Each year, Malay patients seeking a bone morrow donation are robbed of their final chance at life because they cannot find a matching donor.


Chances of finding a bone marrow match outside one’s family are only 1 in 20,000, and it is most likely this match will come from within one’s own ethnic group. With only 8% of the total number of donors registered with the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) from the Malay community, it is nearly impossible for Malay patients to find their life-saving donor.


Earlier this year, one leukemia patient found that 1 in 20,000 match in Noor Syafizah Bte Mahadi, who joined the BMDP register in 2014.


This generous young woman signed up after watching BMDP donor testimonies at her school. “I thought how amazing it must feel to be able to help save someone’s life,” she said.


Three years later, at age 20, she received a call notifying her that she was found as a match for someone in need—someone who would likely die without her help. She was preparing for her exams at the time and the donation was likely to be scheduled during Ramadan, a significant religious annual observance regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam.


“I was very surprised…I didn’t expect to be a donor because the possibility was only 1 in 20,000. What are the chances, right?” Syafizah said.


Despite having some anxieties about the procedure, it didn’t take her long to commit and make the lifesaving donation. “My friends were all very supportive – telling me to go for it. It’s rare to get the opportunity to save a life, so when it comes along, you have to take it,” said Syafizah.


Syafizah’s parents were also very supportive, despite being initially worried for their daughter. Like most people they weren’t familiar with bone morrow donation, and were concerned about possible long-term side-effects.  Only after learning the fact that donors will recover 3-4 weeks after the simple procedure, they realised their fears were misguided. They encouraged their daughter to go through with the donation, knowing it was perfectly safe with no long-term side-effects.


“We were shocked when she first told us”, said Mahadi Daonher, Syafizah’s dad. “When we learned more about it, our minds were put at ease, knowing our daughter was in safe hands and the procedure was straightforward, painless and with no long-term side-effects.


“We are extremely proud of our daughter. We believe it’s important to do what you can to help people, and this is what she did and we want to encourage other Malay parents to support their family members who are considering becoming a donor so other lives can be saved.”


Unfortunately, the Malay Muslim community is not always so supportive, not only because of misconceptions about the risks, but also due to concerns that donating bone marrow may be against the principles of Islam. This led to the serious underrepresentation of Malays on the bone morrow donor register.


However, many in the Malay Muslim community have commended Syafizah for her generosity, including Ustaz Tarmizi Wahid, founder of the Safinah Institute – a centre for Islamic education in Singapore.


“There’s nothing in the bone marrow donation process that goes against any of the principles of Islam. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. There are numerous verses in the Quran and Islamic tradition that encourage people to go out of their way to help people in need and save lives,” he said. He also noted that Syafizah should be seen as an inspiration for young people and Muslims alike to join BMDP’s register.


“I thought how amazing it must feel to be able to help save someone’s life,”  

- Noor Syafizah Bte Mahadi

On September 16, World Marrow Donor Day, Syafizah was featured in the Straits Times, calling for more members of minority races to step up and join Singapore’s only bone marrow donor register.


“All it takes to join the register is a simple cheek swab. From there, you have the chance to be a life saver, said Syafizah.


“I was surprised at how painless and smooth the entire process was, she added. My parents were with me the whole time and I felt very well taken care of.


“I feel very grateful to have been able to do this for someone and always pray that the person I donated to is recovering well and goes on to have a good life and do good things.”


Every person facing a blood disease and in need of a bone marrow transplant deserves a chance at life. Having more Malays on the donor list means more lives can be saved and it all comes down to the simple act of registering.

PUBLISHED ON 02 October 2017
Registering to become a bone marrow donor means committing to be there when you get the call to give life. Each registrant provides hope for those waiting. A person could, however, be a match within a few months of registering, a year later or even seven years later.
How to register?