Left to right – Sandiso, Sr Mandisa Mase, Prof Alan Davidson, and Siyabonga, Sandiso’s uncle after a successful bone marrow transplant at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town. Picture: Supplied.
Left to right – Sandiso, Sr Mandisa Mase, Prof Alan Davidson, and Siyabonga, Sandiso’s uncle after a successful bone marrow transplant at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town. Picture: Supplied.

Nine-year-old Durban boy receives lifesaving bone marrow transplant

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Aug 15, 2020

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Durban - A nine-year-old Durban boy has undergone a bone marrow transplant at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town - a procedure thanks to a donor that has saved his life.

Because of the transplant, Sandiso has a chance to fulfil his dreams of becoming a hip-hop DJ.

His dreams, however, nearly came to a crashing halt in January 2020 when he was diagnosed with idiopathic aplastic anaemia.

His uncle, Siyabonga, who was by his side during the procedure shared the story of how they found out about this condition and what it would entail.

“At first I thought he was just ill and I took him to a doctor in Durban. They did a number of tests, including some blood tests,” he said..

“Then we got the news. There was something wrong with his blood and Sandiso needed a bone marrow transplant. We were shocked.”

After some checks at a hospital in Durban, Sandiso was referred to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town.

Professor Alan Davidson, who heads up the Haematology and Oncology unit at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital (RCWMCH), shares one of his major concerns: “Sometimes we just don’t have enough options for patients in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant,” he says. “We need a more diverse donor pool to make sure we have the right match for every patient.”

Unlike other forms of transplantation, bone marrow transplants don’t involve a surgical procedure.

The stem cells which have been collected from a donor’s bone marrow or peripheral blood are infused very much like a blood transfusion.

“This is little known or understood but despite the absence of drama it’s just as high-stakes as a solid organ transplant,” says Prof Davidson.

“Sandiso is the first patient referred specifically to RCWMCH for a bone marrow transplant,” Prof Davidson explained.

“Although we’ve managed our patients, as well as patients referred from other hospitals, after transplants performed at Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH), Sandiso is the first patient referred to RCWMCH specifically for a bone marrow transplant...And we must thank the GSH team for their amazing collegiality and support. Without doubt children are the winners here.”

Stem cell transplantation is used as a medical treatment for life-threatening blood disorders, for blood cancers such as leukaemia and lymphoma and for some inherited disorders which can be corrected with bone marrow new stem cells.

It replaces your bone marrow with healthy cells which can fight cancer or perform vital functions for the recipient.

Become a donor:

The South African Bone Marrow Registry: https://sabmr.co.za/

The Sunflower Fund: www.sunflowerfund.org

IOL

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