David Burge Updates

David Burge updates his journey with leukemia

Bone Marrow

with 2 comments

Dave is hoping to have an allogenic bone marrow transplant.  This means that the donor marrow will come from another person whose tissue is as close to his own as possible. Tissue types are inherited, similar to hair or eye colour. It is more likely that a donor who comes from the same racial or ethnic group as David will have the same tissue traits. Some tissue types are rarely found in donors from other ethnic backgrounds.

Warning: here comes a little science lesson…

{HLA stands for human leukocyte antigens.” HLA markers are proteins found on most cells in your body. Your immune system uses these proteins — or markers — to recognize which cells belong in your body and which do not.” A genetic mismatch as small as a single DNA base pair is significant. A 6 of 6 match is a donor that matches at 6 HLA markers: two A, two B and two DRB1. But there are more factors that the doctors will look at. You can see a example lab. result here.   Looking at  just one of these 6 factors, the HLA-A see here. There are 673 gene alleles capable of producing 527 HLA-A isoforms and 46 nulls. It is complicated! No wonder they need millions and millions of people on the Bone Marrow Registry.} science lesson ends here!

For those in New Zealand:

Because testing is expensive and New Zealanders of European descent have access to the International database with 13 million people on it, the New Zealand Bone Marrow Registry is using its funds to find people who belong to ethnic minorities.

If you have ancestors who were Maori, Pacific Islanders or a New Zealand ethnic minority NZBMDR needs YOU!

Those of Maori descent have about 30,000 people as potential bone marrow donors. Dave has millions.

So if you belong to a minority ethnic group please consider going on the registry – all it takes is a little extra blood when you make a blood donation.

If you are of European descent you are not off the hook though!

A New Zealand friend, Bill Horton wrote

“Thinking (and praying, of course) about David’s BMT and the wave of questions, “Might I be a match? How could I check?”  It occurred to me as I made my one hundred and sixth blood donation, that most of us can be organ donors right away by becoming blood donors. I phoned the blood bank and spoke to Robyn, one of the local technicians. She said that though they’re putting effort into recruiting Polynesian and Asian marrow donors (there are 13 million European BM donors already on file), they can always use more of us regular blood donors. Robyn also works in therapeutics and said, “We use heaps of platelets, plasma and red cells for treatments like your friend’s undergoing.”  So here we have a practical way to help David in a general manner.  Take note, though, that once you overcome the fear factor of the first few donations, you may, like me, become addicted for life. I find it a very, very satisfying experience.”

For the rest of the world

Consider joining the International Bone Marrow Registry see


Here is a short video to explain what is involved if you should be called to donate.


Written by admin

February 24, 2010 at 1:07 am

Posted in from Tarnya

2 Responses

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  1. I get off the hook! Not that I am happy about it, but I am banned as was in England during the mad cow disease problems, and yes, it is always good for a joke in the family if I start to act a bit odd. But I am gonna pass the info on to some other friends who are part maori. have a great day


    February 24, 2010 at 9:10 am

  2. An earlier post on this blog showed the donation process (video #10). I used to donate plasma via an almost identical process and I agree with what is said on the video, i.e. it’s no big deal at all.

    The only real difference between plasma donation and bone marrow donation is the four days of injections required for the latter.

    If needles and so forth make you uncomfortable just remember that you’re giving something that can save a life :). The same goes for regular blood donations, as described above by Bill.

    Mandeno Moments

    February 24, 2010 at 10:14 am

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