Why Race Matters
Importance of Race in Finding a Match

Blood disease does not differentiate between culture, race, language or religion. While the disease does not discriminate, the solution in finding a matching donor does. A vast majority of successful bone marrow transplants require donors and patients to be of the same ethnic group due to the similarity in their genetic makeup. With a pool of just 7,000 Malay and Indian donors found on the local register, the chances of finding the 1 in 20,000 match are much slimmer. We thus urge more members from the Indian, Malay and mixed ethnic backgrounds to step up and join the register.

You could save a life!

Finding The Match For Life

The key to any successful transplant is to ensure the acceptance of the new cell, tissue or organ. In the case of a bone marrow transplant, the immunity of a patient is being replaced with that of the donor. The Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA) a marker on the white blood cell is the main marker that determines if what is being transplanted belongs to the body of the patient. Due to the uniqueness of every individual’s genetic makeup, there are multiple permutations to the HLA marker making the odds of finding a possible match in a stranger 1 in 20,000.


So why does race matter? Our HLA markers are inherited by ancestry. While there are multiple permutations, people of the same race and ancestry have a greater likelihood to have inherited the same permutation of markers, making them the best candidate when finding a match. As such, the HLA markers of a Malay patient will have the highest possibility of being matched in a fellow Malay donor, and the same follows for the other races.


Based on our local register, the odds are stacked up against patients from minority groups. How will our Malay and Indian patients find their match, in a pool of only 7,000 donors from each community when the odds are 1 in 20,000? We need your help to spread the word to get more Malay and Indian volunteer donors onto the register, to save the lives of our fellow Singaporeans in need of a bone marrow transplant.


Share this article and encourage your friends to join the register for a chance to step up and be a hero.

PUBLISHED ON 05 August 2015
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?