Image: Jarrad Ricketts – Credit: Clayton Morar Media
This festive season many families will find themselves gathered around a hospital bed of a loved one diagnosed with a life-threatening blood disorder in need of a stem cell transplant, instead of the Christmas table.
At any given time, 200 South African patients are in need of a stem cell transplant, but many simply can’t afford the costs associated with the procedure.
To ease the financial burden of these families, the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR) has again launched their Give A Little Save A Life campaign on BackaBuddy, with the aim of raising R300 000 for their Patient Assistance Programme this year. These funds will be used to cover the cost of donor recruitment, donor searches and related medical bills.
Kamiel Singh, Head of National Operations and Sustainability for the SABMR says there are currently three patients on the registry’s Patient Assistance Programme that are in urgent need of financial assistance.
“Every case that is referred to the SABMR is treated with the utmost urgency to ensure that a patient has the best chance of survival.
“Right now, we are trying to assist an 11 year-old girl from Cape Town with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia; a 55 year-old woman from Gauteng who has Myelodusplastic Syndrome and a man, aged 69, also from Gauteng, who has been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Your financial donation can help give these patients the second chance they so deserve,” he urges.
This festive season, SAMA-nominated singer-songwriter, Jarrad Ricketts and his wife, Kim-Lee, have become advocates for stem cell donation and will be encouraging supporters to donate, while challenging many of the myths around the process.
The famous musician says he was surprised to learn that people of colour are grossly underrepresented on the registry.
“It made me realise how much education still needs to be done to break the stigma around stem cell donation. Hundreds of South African patients die every year from blood related diseases, in many instances related to a shortage of mixed ethnicities, black, coloured and indian donors.
“Annually the SABMR has more than 200 patients on the waiting list for a stem cell transplant -50% of them are of colour, like me. It’s time that we question our reluctance to be involved and focus on the impact we can have on someone’s life.
“Disengagement from the donation process directly harms our communities. We need to be part of the registry more so than anyone else. When someone from a coloured, black or Indian community needs a bone marrow transplant, we struggle more than anyone else.
“My wife and I have pledged our commitment to the SABMR by registering as donors and I’d like to encourage all of my fans to do the same. If we all do our bit, just think how many lives we can save.
“C’om, let’s be someone’s tomorrow this Christmas,” challenges Ricketts.
The need for coloured donors
According to the SABMR, the coloured community are the least represented on their registry.
The breakdown per ethinic group is as follows:
- Coloured – 7.9%
- Asian /Indian – 9.9%
- Black – 10.1%
- White 66.5%
For people of colour the odds of finding a donor match is 1 in 400 000, which needn’t be the case.
Donate to the SABMR’s Give a Little Save A Life campaign:
Register to become a bone marrow donor:
Jarrad and Kim-Lee Ricketts will be appealing to the public via social media to boost donor sign ups and to raise much-needed funds for the SABMR’s Patient Assistance Programme on BackaBuddy. Follow them on @jarradrickettsent and @sabonemreg.
Connect with the SABMR
The SABMR (NPO) was established in 1991, motivated by the concern that although bone marrow transplants were a life-saving treatment option, they were only available to patients with a matching donor in their family. Today, the SABMR searches both locally and internationally for donors, thereby making collaboration with international registries and observing universal standards of practice essential.
To date, the SABMR has helped save the lives of over 550 patients with life-threatening blood disorders by matching them with healthy, unrelated bone marrow donors from South Africa and the rest of the world.
According to SABMR, Sustainability Portfolio Manager, Kamiel Singh, there are currently only 74 000 donors registered on the site to cater to over 57 million South Africans.
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South Africa’s leading crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy has supported more than 10 000+ individuals and charities in setting up fundraising campaigns for medical fees, tuition and various causes in South Africa. The platform has thus far raised over R290 Million.
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