The South African Bone Marrow Registry thanks those who have registered as donors and raised awareness of stem cell donations, bone marrow transplants and various forms of life-threatening cancers. Photo: SABMR
The Gatesville Mosque has collaborated with the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR) in a campaign to profile local heroes - living with, supporting and advocating for increased awareness of stem cell donations, bone marrow transplants and various forms of life-threatening cancer.

World Marrow Donor Day will be marked tomorrow and Gatesville Mosque spokesperson Sataar Parker said recently the increasing number of community members afflicted with various forms of cancer has sounded a call to action.

“The Gatesville Mosque Institute has set up a partnership with the SABMR to increase awareness, make information more widely and easily accessible and ultimately increase the number of registered donors, particularly among populations of East-Asian and African heritage,” he said.

The chances of finding a perfect match for a bone marrow donor were 1 in 100 000 and, given South Africa’s rich ethnic diversity, finding a perfect match was that much harder, he said.

The mosque will launch a campaign called #31Heroes that seeks to profile a member of the immediate community who has made a difference, lived with a form of cancer, been a recipient of a bone marrow transplant, is registered as a donor or is a family member, or supports those awaiting a stem cell match.

The campaign will feature one of the #31Heroes each day for the 31 days leading into October. It will start on September 21 and culminate with a breakfast event on October 21.

SABMR medical director Charlotte Ingram said the main objective of donor day was to thank all unrelated donors, family donors, cord blood donors, donors who had already donated, and donors who were on the global registry waiting to donate.

“Every year, hundreds of South Africans with blood diseases such as leukaemia reach the point where their only chance of survival is a bone marrow transplant.

“For about 30% of patients, a matched donor can be found in their own family; for the other 70%, their only hope is to find a matched unrelated donor identified by the SABMR.

“However, the SABMR only has 73 000 registered volunteer donors which makes the chances finding a suitable donor so much harder,” Ingram said.

The SABMR encourages potential donors to sign up with the South African Bone Marrow Registry directly.

Any healthy person between the age of 18 and 45 may register as a bone marrow donor. To join the registry, go to www.sabmr.co.za, call 021 447 8638 or email [email protected]

If you are unable or ineligible to become a stem cell donor, consider making a financial contribution to the SABMR, go to www.sabmr.co.za and click the "Donate" button.