15.000th donor is from Makarska!

In Makarska we got the 15.000th donor, Mrs Biljana Puharić

Beauty in the foot of Biokovo – «Ana Rukavina Foundation» in Makarska! Our team is visiting beautiful Dalmatia today and in Makarska we got our 15.000th donor – young mother, Biljana Puharić!

This is how the announcement for our visit looked in Makarska kronika: After talking to Kronika’s journalists, dr. sci. Mirando Mrsić has put Makarska on the list of cities where Ana Rukavina Foundation will organize together with Ana’s family, KBC Center for typization and Vjesnik journalists who also participate, drawing of blood samples for typization. Maybe you are not thinking yet about helping and saving somebody’s life, but don’t forget that maybe tomorrow already you yourself can become a person in desperate need for bone marrow. “I want life!”, those were the words of prematurely deceased journalist, Ana Rukavina which she said aloud. Every year in Croatia there are 50 people, mostly children, who fall ill from that malignant disease. But their cry for help is not heard in public like Ana’s. However, they, too, want life for which they are unjustly and suddenly forced to fight. Their chances for survival would be much greater if the Croatian Registry of potential bone marrow donors would be more extensive.

Donation fame broken

Before the Ana Rukavina Foundation was established and before the avalanche of public awareness started, initiated by the letter of ill and sadly deceased Vjesnik journalist, Croatian Registry of potential bone marrow donors had only 150 people listed. Now, the number grew to 3046 donors, which increased the possibility to find a matching bone marrow donor for those fallen ill from leukemia and lymphoma.

If there would 12 million people in the world, and if all of them would be entered in the Registry of bone marrow donors, a newborn baby maybe wouldn’t manage to find a non-related donor. That is most plastic way to describe the need to have as many people entered into the Registry, explained prim. dr. Vesna Brkljačić Kerhin from Center for tissue typization in our conversation over the phone.

Although there is no statistic data about the number of people in Makarska region who fall ill from some type of acute leukemia, dr. sci. Mirando Mrsić, native from Podgora, now working in KBC Zagreb as a specialist internist-hematologist, met many of them.
The number of people fallen ill from Makarska region is not bigger than the average and the sickness is not more frequent there than in other Croatian regions. The biggest problem is insufficient awareness of people about the need and the simplicity of bone marrow donation procedure. Finally, things started to move, but it took a long time to break the donation fame as a terrible and complicated procedure, says dr. Mrsić.

The role of media

Although Makarska wasn’t planned as a destination, after our conversation, dr. Mirando Mrsić set a date for blood typization in the city under Biokovo. It will be March 13th. Medical team, which will visit many Croatian cities in March comes to the field based on the citizen’s invitation, said dr. Mrsić. People who call them are usually those who have or have had a case of leukemia in the family. That’s how they got invited to Omiš by a mother whose little boy, unfortunately, didn’t manage to live until the transplantation. The organization of such campaigns is not complicated at all. It is necessary to secure a busy place in town, where they put a little tent. Inside the tent there are a couple of chairs and a table and that’s where the citizens can receive all the information, where they give blood for typization and every dosage is a potential savior of somebody’s life at any moment in any part of the world.
Your writing about it can be one of the ways to increase public awareness. Current donors are most usually family members who went through the illness Calvary, but it is very important to increase awareness with people who luckily weren’t forced to face the terrible disease. We can agree right away that our tent can be in Makarska on March 12th, said dr. Mrsić.

Life dedicated to fight against leukemia

Dr. sci. Mirando Mrsić is very exposed in the media in the passed weeks. He treated Ana Rukavina and that case brought him to the center of all activities related to founding a Foundation bearing name of the late journalist. This physician from Makarska spoke about the importance and simplicity of bone marrow donation procedure on Croatian television and in all national media. Mrsić was born in 1959 in Split. He is internist-hematologist expert working in KBC in Zagreb. He based his work on acute leukemia treatment and bone marrow transplantation and proved to be an expert in that field. In rich and respectable medical career he filled and he still fills many posts such as lecturer on Zagreb Medical School, bone marrow transplantation unit manager, assistant director for medical work in KBC Zagreb, president of the Health board member of the Hematology and transfusiology Association, member of the SDP’s Health Council and president of the Leukemia and lymphoma Association.

Who can become bone marrow donor and how?

Many people don’t know that by giving blood for typization, they don’t actually donate bone marrow. By that way they are only entered to the Registry under a code. In case it becomes evident you’re your bone marrow matches exactly with someone anywhere in the world, the Institute contacts you to check if you are still ready to donate bone marrow.
All bone marrow Registries are gathered into European, or respectfully, World bone marrow bank. That means that, if you are entered into the Registry, you can save life not only to the person from your city or your country, but anywhere in the world.

Any person in the age from 18 to 55 can become a donor if he or she is not ill from any severe illness (cardiovascular or infectious diseases). To become a potential donor, you have to sign a letter of consent. After that, your blood sample is drawn into a test tube, which is stored in a lab for tissue typization. You leave your name, surname, address and a contact number, but your name is known only to the typization center. In the Registry, your name is entered under a code. You don’t have to give bone marrow to enter the Registry; you just have to give a blood sample.
Once you are entered into the Registry, you have become a potential donor. If there is a patient with the same antigens of tissue tolerance as you, Typization center would contact you and ask again if you are willing to give the donation. To be in the donor Registry means to want and be able to save somebody’s life.

Croatian dark statistic

Bone marrow transplantation started back in 1983 in KBC Zagreb, but a wider public promotion of bone marrow donations never caught full swing…
The list of non-related donors in Croatia is very short and mortality rate of children ill from malignant blood diseases who need such treatment the most is still ranked the highest.
Croatia has the smallest number of registered donors in Europe.

There were close to 6000 transplantations completed in the world in 2002 and in Croatia only three.

Author: Ružana Kovač

Posted in Actions to join the Croatian Registry, News.