Leukaemia Awareness month kicks off

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Durban locals will have a chance to run (or walk) 5km to create awareness and raise funds for the treatment of Leukaemia.

Durban - In honour of Leukaemia Awareness month, Durban locals will have a chance to run (or walk) 5km to create awareness and raise funds for the treatment of the disease.

Hosted by the Sunflower Fund, an organisation formed 13 years ago by parents whose children had leukaemia, the fun run will take place on September 16 at Suncoast Casino.

The entry fee is R40, which will be used to tissue type potential bone marrow stem cell donors to include in the SA Bone Marrow Registry.

Professor Vernon Louw, the head of the clinical haematology unit at the University of the Free State, said leukaemia affected about 16.1 out of 100 000 South African men, and about 9.7 out of 100 000 South African women a year.

“Leukaemia accounts for about 2 percent of SA cancer cases, and the probability of developing it sometime during our lives is one in 77, or 1.3 percent,” he added.

According to the Sunflower Fund, treatment involves completely destroying the patient’s bone marrow with medicine and radiation. The graft from a donor is then given intravenously, causing blood-forming stem cells to travel to cavities in the bones and eventually produce normal blood.

The odds of finding a matching donor is just one in 100 000, while the registry has about 65 500 donors on record.

Janine le Roux of the Sunflower Fund said ethnic origin was an important factor when matching donors to patients, because the markers that were tested for a match were genetically inherited, and often unique to a particular race.

“There are currently not enough bone marrow stem cell donors on the SA registry from the 211 ethnic groups that make up the country,” she said.

She said family members were generally the most suitable match, but because of the average family size, only a small percentage of patients were compatible with their families. About 75 percent of patients would have to search for an unrelated donor.

Registration for the run will be on Saturday and on September 15 at the Pick n Pay Hyper Durban North, 10am to 5pm, and at the Zone at Suncoast on September 15 from 1-3pm. - Daily News


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