"There are about 74 000 donors registered nationally, the so-called coloureds comprise only 6%, or 4 440 donors. So finding a match looks bleak." Picture: Matthew Jordaan
My eldest daughter, Nabeelah, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia three weeks ago.

It is inevitable she will require a bone marrow stem cell transplant. This is not as harsh as it sounds. This is done simply by collecting blood from the donor. However, the probability of finding a suitable donor for her is 1 in 100 000.

To exacerbate the problem, we have just received the devastating news that none of her three siblings are suitable donors.

Research has shown that there is a greater chance of finding a suitable donor in the same ethnic group. There are about 74 000 donors registered nationally, the so-called coloureds comprise only 6%, or 4 440 donors. So finding a match looks bleak. To change it around, we need the co-operation of the coloured community.

As a father, I am trying to make sense of the challenge my family is facing. Maybe through her illness the Almighty wants me to highlight the plight of patients whose remedy would be a bone marrow transplant and the dire need for donors in our community.

Medicine has advanced so much that patients with blood cancer or blood or marrow illnesses can be cured, but at the mercy of their communities.

While some wait up to six years for suitable donors, leukaemic patients who have completed their chemotherapy to rid the cancer unfortunately need a bone marrow replacement shortly thereafter to allow new blood to grow normally.

Unlike other cancers, where the tumour is removed and patients are on the road to recovery, leukaemic patients are in a dilemma. They are left with no blood. They can’t receive blood transfusions forever and die.

With your assistance, we can turn matters around. The Sunflower Fund has campaigns to list donors on their registry. The next drive will take place at the Turfhall Softball Stadium on March 30 from 10am to 2pm.

Volunteers must provide a cheek swab, be healthy and aged between 18 and 45. They must not eat anything at least an hour before the test, not even chewing gum.

* Adiel Ismail, Mount View.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus