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Bone marrow recipient meets donor for first time

'YOU SAVED MY LIFE': Ms Deshi (right), 32, met her donor Ms Nair, 27, for the first time yesterday


    Aug 05, 2016

    Bone marrow recipient meets donor for first time

    MS DESHI was an ambitious flight attendant living the jet-setting life when she started to get bruises on her body that would not fade.

    Worried, she went for a check-up in January last year and was found to have acute myeloid leukaemia, a strain of a blood-related cancer.

    For the next few months after that, she went through aggressive treatments and suffered infections that kept her weak and hospitalised, unable to eat or drink. Many times, she felt close to giving up.

    "I felt so demoralised and dejected sometimes. I went from a flight attendant to someone who couldn't do anything and needed help to use the toilet," said Ms Deshi, who did not want her full name to be disclosed.

    Now, 18 months after her diagnosis, Ms Deshi, 32, is healthy again and was recently even certified fit-to-fly.

    This is all thanks to Ms Sheila Nair, whose bone marrow donation a year ago saved Ms Deshi from certain death.

    Yesterday, the two women met for the first time.

    Ms Nair, 27, an accounts executive, had a nervous smile as she waited to meet the person whose life she had changed. When Ms Deshi walked through the door, they embraced each other tightly.

    With tears streaming down her face, Ms Deshi thanked Ms Nair repeatedly, saying: "You saved my life."

    "Sheila is a part of me, her cells are in my body. She's like my sister," she said.

    Ms Deshi's mother, Rani Kaur, 55, sobbed as she thanked Ms Nair - her "new daughter".

    The meeting was organised by the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP), which is dedicated to expanding and managing Singapore's only register of volunteer bone marrow donors.

    Ms Nair became a donor when she chanced upon its booth in Potong Pasir Community Centre as a 17-year-old.

    When she got the call about being a match almost 10 years later, she was surprised as the chances of being matched to a patient is slim.

    The chances of a perfect bone marrow match with unrelated persons are around one in 20,000.

    BMDP currently has about 65,000 donors in its local register. Last year, the non-profit group helped facilitate 58 transplants here, of which 15 involved local donors.