Sunflower Fund, partnered by DKMS, has appealed to South Africans between the ages of 18 and 55 and in general good health to register to become stem cell donors.
Stem cell transplants are effective in curing more than 70 diseases including leukaemia, lymphoma and sickle cell anaemia.
Every year hundreds of South Africans with blood diseases such as leukaemia and bone marrow failure are in need of bone marrow stem-cell transplant from a healthy donor, according to Western Cape Government.
The Sunflower Fund project aims to register 15,000 new donors this year in a bid to increase and create a more ethnically diverse donor registry and inevitably save more lives.
It is understood that there are about 77,000 registered stem cell donors in South Africa, and efforts are under way to create awareness and encourage more people to register.
‘Our donors are the backbone of our work. They are lifesavers. Since our organisation started, we have engaged stakeholders in policymaking, corporates, non-profit organisations, the media and the public’, the organisation’s Chief Executive, Alana James, said.
‘Everyone who has supported us by requesting a swab kit, donating funds, being part of our patient appeals, we thank you for being part of the Sunflower family and for being central to our work.
‘The genetic diversity in African populations poses an opportunity for us to help patients of our unique genetic makeup.
‘Currently, donor numbers among the African populations are low, and we need to build them so we can save more lives’.
Photo source: Sunflower Fund