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Every year, thousands of South Africans of all ages and races are diagnosed with leukaemia.
Their only hope of survival is finding a donor who shares the same tissue type.
According to the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR), the ratio of finding a suitable donor is 1:100 000.
The registry’s Professor Ernette du Toit said: “Unlike major organ transplants, where one can get away with a 75 percent match and good immunosuppressant therapy, bone marrow transplants need to be matched 100 percent.”
For a Kloof family whose 10-year-old son was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, it has been a long and difficult road to find a donor.
Chase Avice du Buisson, a pupil at Thomas More College, was diagnosed with leukaemia three months ago after he developed a rash on his back and blood blisters on his hip.
His mother, Samantha, said an initial visit to the doctor did not yield any results.
“It was only after the blood blisters persisted that the doctor did various tests on him, which confirmed that he was suffering from leukaemia. Our initial reaction was one of shock.”
She said finding a suitable donor for her son had been a challenge.
His relatives had been tested, but none proved to be a match.
With only about 65 000 volunteers registered with the SABMR, Chase’s family may be required to find an alternative donor.
Du Toit said that almost 75 percent of their patients had received their “unrelated” volunteer donors from overseas.
Du Buisson has pleaded with the public to get tested as possible donors.
“Chase is just like any other child. He loves the simple things in life: rugby, riding his bike and playing soccer. But what he needs right now is another chance to live. I know they are many Chases out there, that is why I am appealing to the public to register as donors because you may never know when you would need that transplant,” she said.