Special song marks 1.2 million stem cell transplants

One of our South African, world-famous singer-songwriters, George Kalukusha, has written a song to give these donors a big high-five. The link to this song is at the end of the article and it is really great. It is a catchy tune called, “Don’t Be Afraid to Live”. George hopes very much to inspire more donors to come forward and save these people, often children, who are fighting so hard just for the chance to stay alive.

“I was moved by the real-life experiences that donors and patients shared and can honestly say that the song wrote itself from there. The concept didn’t take long to formulate. The entire song emulates the vision of the SA Bone Marrow Registry, which is to recruit more blood stem cell donors to help save lives,” says Kalukusha

A spokesperson for the South African Bone Marrow Registry said: “The release of the ‘Don’t be Afraid to Live’ song is our of thanking each and every donor for who they are, what they stand for, and the difference they are making to someone else’s life. We salute you!”

Thank you, dankie, enkosi, ngiyabonga!

Kalukusha urges every South African between the ages of 16 and 45 to become a donor today and be someone’s tomorrow. “If you’re able to, it may just be the best decision of your life!”

You can be a Bone Marrow Superhero

In movies these days one is always coming across Superheroes. They come in all shapes and forms. But all of us can have the chance today to do something really amazing. Maybe even save a life. Imagine how good that would feel! 

Today is the day, because the South African Marrow Donors Registry is waiting for you to phone in and say you will become a Superhero and save a life. 19th September is the day the whole world celebrates the 1.2 million donors of blood stem cells for transplants that have been achieved.

Donating blood stem cells is really easy. All it involves is a cheek swab to begin with and, should you be matched up with a patient, it is as simple as giving blood. Nearly half of all blood stem cell transplants use international donors of which there are 74 000 in South Africa – not nearly enough.

100 000 more donors are needed in South Africa. In some cases, it can take months or even years to find a suitable donor, and these patients just do not have that long. Time is not on their side,” says Nadia Chalkley of the SA Bone Marrow Registry.

The SABMR was established in 1991, motivated by the concern that, although the transplants could save lives, they were only available to patients with a matching donor in their family. Now matching donors can be searched for internationally, which gives everyone a better chance of life.

The SA Bone Marrow Registry provides hope for patients today

Here is an example of the sort of miracle that anyone of us can facilitate by signing up as a donor, or offering to donate a little towards the care of a patient who cannot afford the treatment:

Rachel was five when her parents noticed that she was ill and they took her to the doctor for tests. She was referred to a paediatrician, who did some more tests and then referred her to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. There, she was diagnosed with Pure Red Cell Aplasia.

At first this little girl was being treated with transfusions. Towards the end of 2015, the family was told that she needed to have a bone marrow/stem cell transplant urgently. It took longer than a year to find a matching donor, but her genetic twin was found very far away. Her name is Magdalena Lewandowska, and she lives in Poland. 

Rachel has now written a delightful book about her experience called, “Rachel’s Second Chance”. It is available on the SA Bone Marrow Registry’s website. (Link at end of article). The funds from the e-book and hard copies will go towards the Patient Assistance Programme to assist more children like Rachel.

How it happened that Magdalena became Rachel’s superhero

Magdalena had never thought about registering to become a donor; but a friend wanted to sign up. So, one day Magdalena agreed to accompany her friend to the centre. So many people are tested before a donor is found that a match hardly ever happens. The search for Rachel’s donor took more than a year.

But a miracle occurred in Poland that day

Imagine the delight and relief of Rachel’s family when they heard about Magdalena. Imagine if Magdalena had decided not to accompany her friend that day… Three years ago, Rachel had a life-saving bone marrow transplant facilitated by the South African Bone Marrow Registry. She has been a different child since then.

There are currently 2 patients on the waiting list, hoping for their miracle of a transplant.

And one is a six-year-old boy from the Western Cape.

So please sign up and see if you can be the miracle match.

To sign up as a possible donor, please contact the SA Bone Marrow Registry where they are waiting to take down your details. If one is not able to become a donor, cash donations are very gratefully received, as there are patients who simply cannot afford the costs involved.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SABMR was not able to host physical fundraising events. The funds raised through these events greatly contribute to the Patient Assistance Programme where financial assistance is provided for patients who cannot afford the cost of finding a suitable donor. Please see link here for BackaBuddy donations. https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/sabmr-2020

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