April is National Donate Life Month. Every year, hundreds of South Africans with blood diseases reach the point where their only chance of survival is a bone marrow transplant.
Approximately 70% of these patients won’t have a matched donor in their family and their only hope is to find a matched unrelated donor identified by the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR).
The SABMR 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, recruits its own new donors from various ethnic backgrounds and sustains it operations through fundraising campaigns and events. An internationally recognised registry, the SABMR is a member of the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA) and received full accreditation in 2018. The SABMR has over 73,000 donors on its database, while through its participation with the WMDA’s Search & Match Service, the SABMR has access to over 37 million donors worldwide.
A few hours of your time is all it takes to save the life of someone affected by blood cancer or disease. We all have the potential to be part of someone’s tomorrow. The SABMR is constantly looking to increase its database both in number as well as ethnic diversity. This month you can help grow the South African Bone Marrow Registry and International Registry by signing up online as a potential blood stem cell donor.
If you are in good health and between the ages of 18-45 you might be eligible to donate. The online process is simple and quick. Apply on this link today, complete the required Health Questionnaire and, if you are eligible, we will arrange for you to have a cheek swab – and add your HLA typing to our database.
Parents-to-be should consider storing their newborn’s umbilical cord blood stem cells since, should a sister or brother require a stem cell transplant, there is a high probability (25%) that the sibling will be a suitable HLA match. There is an approximately 0.01% to 0.001% chance of a match being identified through a National or International Bone Marrow Registry.
It is envisioned that, at the end of the standard storage period (20 years), CryoSave Clients will be given an option of donating the cryopreserved cord blood unit to an unrelated patient, through a National or International Registry.