Bone marrow transplant foundation looking for Arab and Kurdish donors

The Czech Republic has around 30,000 registered bone marrow donors. But almost none of them can help a patient who has antigens, substances stimulating immune responses, which are uncommon in this part of the world. A new project launched by the Czech Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation now hopes to find donors among the country's Arab and Kurdish communities. At special gatherings, they are informed about bone marrow transplants and can register with an application form in Arabic.

Dr. Vladimir Koza
Dr. Vladimir Koza, a haematology and oncology specialist told Dita Asiedu why the project is so important:

"The Czech community is a very closed community and we have very similar transplant antigens. When someone has an atypical antigen and needs a bone marrow donor, he needs to search in other countries. So it helps our patients to have donors from other countries, living in other communities etc."

And how are you approaching these minority groups?

"It's not so easy because not so many people from other countries live here and it isn't so easy to approach them. It's very helpful if they have an organisation here. Another thing is that it is very important for them to have a fixed address here, health insurance, and so on. So, it's not so easy but on the other hand their help is very useful and that is why we plan to continue with this recruitment."

Why just the Arabs and the Kurds? Are you already cooperating with other minorities?

"Yes, we would appreciate any collaboration with other minorities like the Vietnamese and the Roma, for example. But it's not easy to organise this campaign. Since we had a contact for the leaders of these two communities here, we started with them."

Do you have patients from the minority groups?

"Yes but fortunately not that many. If the patient comes from these minorities he also has this atypical antigen and it's hard, actually impossible, to find a bone marrow donor among Czechs. So he has to look for a suitable donor in his country of origin or from his community. So, donors would also help themselves - their own communities."