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10% chance of recovery unless toddler gets donor - DEC 27, 2001

UPDATE - 30 January 2003

The birth of Ryan's little sister has given him a new lease of life. The baby's cord blood was a complete match for Ryan who is well on the path to recovery after the transplant. Mr & Mrs Foo Say Yaw would like to express their sincere thanks to all web surfers who had earlier responded to their appeal for bone marrow donors.

Thank you to CancerStory volunteers Tan Lee Lian, Ong Hui Teng and Natalie Pang who have offered to donate bone marrow.

DEC 27, 2001 THU
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10% chance of recovery unless toddler gets donor

By Margaret Perry

TWO-YEAR-OLD Ryan Foo got lots of toys and clothes for Christmas, but his family is hoping that someone will give the toddler a present that money cannot buy - the chance to live.

The child has leukaemia and doctors have told his parents that his only real chance is a bone marrow transplant.

His father, engineer Foo Say Yaw, 33, said: ''When he was first diagnosed in August, the doctors said there was a 60-per-cent chance chemotherapy would cure him.

''He went through the first round of chemo quite smoothly and we were optimistic.''

But when the treatment finished a month ago, cancer cells were found in Ryan's spinal fluid and blood. Now, the doctors say he has only a 10-per-cent chance of recovery - unless he has that bone marrow transplant.

Both Mr Foo and his wife, Madam Wendy Lau, 31, who stopped working in a hotel accounts department to look after her son, cannot give him theirs as their marrow is incompatible with his.

Siblings usually offer the best match, but Ryan is an only child. His only hope now is a one in 20,000 chance of a suitable match in a donor who is not related.

His family is hoping one will be found by March, so that he can have a transplant when his latest round of chemotherapy finishes.

They have approached friends and family to register with the Bone Marrow Registry. Mr Foo said that even if they cannot help their son, they might be able to help someone else who needs a transplant.

About 400 new cases of leukaemia are diagnosed here every year. Of these, about 30 to 40 new cases in children are seen at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), according to senior consultant paediatrician June Lou.

Chemotherapy cures about 70 per cent of affected children, she said. The rest either relapse and require a marrow transplant or die.

Potential donors can register at either the National University Hospital's Blood Donation Centre (weekdays, 9 am to 5 pm; Saturdays, 9 am to noon) or Singapore General Hospital's Haematology Centre (weekdays only, 9 am to 4 pm).


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