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Sister Lives Thanks to Oumie



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Gambian woman saves her sister's life

Oumie with her friend's babyThirty five year old Oumie Saine is from Banjul in The Gambia, West Africa.  In August 2005 she became a stem cell donor for her sister who was suffering from Leukaemia.  Thanks to Oumie her sister is still alive today.  

Oumie has been living in Manchester, England since the 1995.  Her sister moved to Sweden in the 1980s but was diagnosed with leukaemia in January 2005.  Although she underwent chemotherapy it was unsuccessful and doctors soon said that she needed a bone marrow transplant. 

Six brothers and sisters were tested but none had a matching tissue type.  Oumie wanted to be tested but as she had a history of anaemia herself she was discouraged from doing so.  However she persisted and was eventually tested.

Oumie turned out to be a match for her sister and travelled to Sweden to be her donor.  She donated stem cells by the Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) Donation process.  Oumie saved her sister's life.

After Oumie had been identified as a suitable donor she was encouraged by her family and a few of her friends.  Not all were supportive though.  Some tried to persuade her not to go through with it.  So called "friends" warned of health problems that she would face, how she would not be able to have babies afterwards.  Some even warned that she may die.  Fortunately Oumie was not put off by this nonsense.

So how did Oumie feel about the whole donation process?  She said that she was a bit nervous but the procedure was "simple, straight forward and painless".  She experienced no after affects.

Today her sister is now, in Oumie's words "a very healthy woman, which is great".  And how about Oumie?  "I am very happy and expecting a baby".

So Oumie was privileged to be able to save the life of her sister and now looks forward to welcoming a new life into this world.

However most people who require bone marrow transplants do not find a donor from within their own family.  In fact less than 30 per cent do.  And that is one reason why the unrelated Bone Marrow Register is so important.  Nearly three quarters of bone marrow donors worldwide come from this register. 

However, there are not enough people currently registered as potential bone marrow donors.  And this problem is even worse for black or minority ethnic patients waiting for a bone marrow transplant.  And many patients die, the medical doctors unable to find a suitable donor in time.

But it doesn't have to be that way.  You can make a difference.  The question is . . . will you?

Oumie concluded with this heartfelt appeal:

"I am encouraging everybody, but especially people of African descent, to become a potential bone marrow donor, if you can.  Someone, somewhere may be waiting for YOU".

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