Volunteers from the College of Cape Town assisted in getting more people signed up blood stem cell donors. Picture: DKMS Africa Facebook page
Volunteers from the College of Cape Town assisted in getting more people signed up blood stem cell donors. Picture: DKMS Africa Facebook page

WATCH: This is how you can become a stem cell donor and help save someone’s life

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Oct 14, 2021

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Durban - Every year, families across the country are given heartbreaking news that a loved one has been diagnosed with a blood cancer illness. For many, the news is almost a death sentence because the chances of a patient finding a donor match are 1 in 100 000 within their own ethnic group.

DKMS Africa, whose mission is to connect a patient with a donor, said in South Africa, patients of colour are at a distinct disadvantage due to the low number of registered donors from Black, Coloured and Indian population groups.

"Donors who share the same ethnic or genetic background as an affected blood cancer patient, are more likely to be their unique life-saving match," said DKMS Africa.

This week, IOL featured the plight of a Durban family desperate to find a match for their little girl. Baby Mahi Jithoo is just eight months old, and four months ago, she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia – a very rare form of cancer.

Her family said she spent most of her life in hospital, where she has been receiving several rounds of chemotherapy to prepare her for a bone marrow stem cell transplant, which she desperately needs to save her life. However, sadly, a donor match is yet to be found.

One of the most common misconceptions around becoming a donor and the donation process itself is how bone marrow is extracted from a person. There is no slicing or cutting involved.

You can find out more about registration and if you are eligible to donate via the DKMS Africa website.

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