Gugulethu, Cape Town – In a powerful collaboration aimed at saving lives, renowned hip-hop crew Driemanskap is teaming up with medical experts to educate and inspire South Africa's youth to register as blood stem cell donors.
With medical research highlighting the crucial role of younger donors in increasing transplant success rates, this initiative seeks to provide a second chance at life for patients in need.
Blood cancers and blood disorders often require stem cell transplants for the best chance of survival. However, the age of the donor plays a significant role in the outcome.
Recognising this, the campaign urges more young people to step forward and register as blood stem cell donors.
Enter Driemanskap, a renowned music group widely recognised within African communities. Driemanskap, a prolific hip-hop group hailing from Gugulethu township, has emerged as influential voices among South African youth.
Their partnership with DKMS aims to raise awareness about blood cancer and its impact on patients, as well as the importance of stem cell donation and the transplant process. Leveraging their community engagement expertise, Driemanskap will facilitate conversations and drive education on this critical issue.
Dla, one of the members of Driemanskap, shared with “Independent Media Lifestyle” that he believes in the potential of young people to make a significant impact on the world.
By teaching them about blood stem cell donation, he envisions an increase in potential donors, leading to more successful matches and better outcomes for patients in need.
“Through this collaboration, the goal is to inspire more young people to make a difference and in the end, save more lives.”
DKMS spokesperson, Palesa Mokomele, head of Community Engagement and Communications at DKMS Africa, said: “The earlier we start raising awareness and encouraging young people to become donors, the more lives we could potentially save down the line.”
She added: “The misconceptions and myths surrounding blood stem cell donation are among top reasons which possibly prevent more young people from becoming donors, highlighting the need for education.”
For example, most university students lack basic knowledge about the donation process or even what blood cancer and blood disorders are, which may be some of the factors deterring registrations, she said.
“In the fight against blood cancer, education and advocacy are essential to swaying public opinion and driving immediate action.”
According to the head of Community Engagement at DKMS Africa, "We have seen that once people are educated on blood cancer and blood stem cell donation, there is an immediate shift with many of them registering and advocating for others to do the same."
Taking a proactive approach, DKMS Africa sought to partner with a respected music group that could effectively reach and resonate with communities.
But why is it crucial to have a young audience, especially of African descent, actively involved in this awareness and registration campaign?
She explained: “As we age, our bodies experience low-level inflammation, making us more prone to adverse health conditions. Inflamed blood stem cells lose their regenerative ability, produce fewer lymphocytes crucial for the immune system, and may be affected by clonal haematopoiesis — a mutation increasing the risk for blood cancers.
“That’s why individuals between the ages of 17 and 35 are the most desirable donors.“
In South Africa, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer every 72 minutes, and finding a matching blood stem cell donor is the best chance of survival for those living with the disease.
Unfortunately, only 0.04% of South Africans are registered as potential donors. Research has consistently shown that a younger age is a key determinant of patient survival following a stem cell transplant.
Furthermore, the highest chance of finding a match lies within a patient's own ethnic group. This presents a challenge as the majority of both local and global registries are predominantly comprised of white donors.
As a result, Black, Coloured, Indian, and Asian patients face a mere 19% chance of finding a suitable match. Consequently, only 30% of blood cancer patients can rely on family matches, with the remaining 70% dependent on unrelated matches.
“Our message to young people is ask as many questions as possible or do your own research around becoming a stem cell donor.
For starters, check out our frequently asked questions page here: https://www.dkms-africa.org/faq” Mokomele said.