Finding out that you or a loved one has blood cancer can be overwhelming, from date of diagnosis, understanding your treatment and side effects, to reaching remission or sometimes losing a life, these are all concerns that are faced on a daily basis by those who are battling or affected by leukaemia.
Every year thousands of individuals around the world are diagnosed with leukaemia and other life-threatening blood diseases. For many patients, their only hope is a life-saving blood stem cell transplant.
The vision of The Sunflower Fund is to save the lives of children and adults diagnosed with blood diseases by increasing the number of patients making it to transplant. To this end, we aim to grow a healthy, effective, ethnically diverse registry of committed donors.
The chances of finding this match are 1:100 000 and the best chance of a matched donor is within your own ethnic background. There is only a 25% chance that a sibling will be a match so the remaining 75% of patients rely on an unrelated matched donor being found. It is therefore important that people of all races register as donors, especially in South Africa, so that all patients have the opportunity of finding a life-saving donor.
The process to register as a donor is free and involves a non-invasive cheek swab. One needs to be between the ages of 18 and 45 years, weigh over 50kg with a BMI <40, lead a healthy lifestyle and be willing to help any patient. All potential donors are requested not to eat, drink, chew gum or smoke an hour before coming through to register.
The Sunflower Fund will be observing bone marrow stem cell donation and leukaemia awareness month in September by honouring patients who have passed on through leukaemia. Backing this worthy initiative are the families of Aphiwe Khuzwayo, Khosi Malinga, Matthew Thomson, Matthew MacDonald and Tashnika Rambali who succumbed to the illness.
The Fund will be educating the general public about blood diseases and the importance of becoming a blood stem cell donor and will host a blood stem cell donor drive. The event will be held at the Olive Convention Centre (Hall 2) on Saturday 21st September, a day after National Sunflower Day, from 9:30am - 14:30pm.