Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Stem cell donation. I'm registered.

Ultra runner David Barnard is off to run the Atacama staged race with The Sunflower Fund as his beneficiary. David has just sent me an email about his initiative to assist in mobilising people to consider becoming donor and to register as donors.

As a regular blood donor and registered organ donor, this is up my alley. And I'd like to pass it on to you too.

Stem cell transplants are a life-saving treatment option for thousands of South Africans diagnosed with leukaemia every year. Stem cell transplants can only be done if a perfect donor is found. It goes without saying that having an expansive database increases the chances that a match will be found.

Here's the winner - the donation process is much the same as donating blood or platelets. Being a stem cell donor requires no knives nor operations nor anaesthetics. It does require more time than a blood donation (four to six hours) and pre-donation growth hormone injections to stimulate the production of stem cells by bone marrow and their release into the blood stream.

Unlike blood or platelet donation, you are only required to donate stem cells
 if you are found to be a perfect match.

And here's the thing... In his email David says that "the odds of being a match are about 1:100,000 which is why The Sunflower Fund needs our help to mobilise as many donors as possible".

But you've still got to be prepared to donate if you are a match - so don't go into this lightly.

Before calling The Sunflower Fund to register on the SA Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR), I read their neatly presented, two-page info document.

This PDF is available on The Sunflower Fund website (read it before you phone them).

I've just gone through the registration process (friendly Sunflower Fund lady) and made an EFT donation (not compulsory) towards the cost of testing my blood for matching. I have received a reference number from the Sunflower Fund and a registration form, which I can take to my local SANBS blood donor clinic where they'll take two tubes of blood to send off for match testing.

Although you can register at any time of year, David is mobilising friends and relations to register
before he leaves for Chile.

"All you need to do is follow two simple steps," he says.
  1. Phone The Sunflower Fund Toll Free Number, 0800 12 10 82 (weekdays, 08h30 – 16h30), by Friday, 11 September 2015, to complete the pre-registration process. Someone will check if you meet the criteria (e.g. you have to be younger than 45 years of age) to become a donor, and process your Sunflower / SABMR Registration Form. Use “Atacama Project” as your reference when you call.
  2. Have a normal blood test (two test tubes) on Wednesday, 16 September 2016 (09h00-15h00), at The Sunflower Fund’s office in the Brightwater Commons in Randburg.
Both processes will only take a few minutes to complete.
But you have to complete the pre-registration process by Friday, 11 September 2015, in order for The Sunflower Fund to cover the full cost of your blood test on the 16th.
The Sunflower Fund will cover the cost of the blood typing test at any time - in return for having you on the National registry - but if you have the means, it is well worth donating towards the test - from R350.00 or more.

David has a blog and also a Facebook page.

Thank you for the nudge David.

[UPDATE] - done!

Blood samples take at my local SANBS clinic, which will go off to SABMR for testing and matching

1 comment:

The Sunflower Fund said...

Thank you for this wonderfully written blog Lisa!! We are eternally grateful and appreciate your commitment and support. YOU could be that life-saving Angel a patient has been searching for!

Thank you once again!

With warm regards from us all at The Sunflower Fund