KUALA LUMPUR: The search for suitable blood stem cell donors in Malaysia will be made more efficient with the setting up of the National Stem Cell Coordinating Centre.
Health Ministry’s Medical Development director Datuk Dr Azmi Shapie said the centre, which started operations in March, had the database of all registered donors, whether peripheral blood, bone marrow, or umbilical cord blood.
The function of the centre, he said, would be to look through this database for suitable donors and provide this information to clinical transplant experts.
Patients who do not have family members with compatible blood stem cells have to look for unrelated compatible donors.
Previously, clinical experts had to look through the Malaysian Stem Cell Registry and contact blood banks that store stem cells from umbilical cords to look for suitable donors.
“This database will allow us to save time as the centre will be able find the match through its database.
“We hope with this centre, we can increase the efficiency of the search for unrelated donors,” he said after launching the centre yesterday.
Dr Azmi said the centre, which is based within the National Blood Centre here, was set up at a cost of only RM50,000 to develop the database software, using experts from within the ministry.
Stem cell transplants are needed for patients diagnosed with blood disorders such as aplastic anaemia, thalassaemia and cancerous blood disorders such as leukaemia or lymphoma.
As of March 31, this year, 22,933 people or 0.08% of the Malaysian population have registered as stem cell donors.
Malaysian citizens who are healthy, free of chronic and infectious disease, and aged between 18 and 50 can become a stem cell donor.