Blood disorder survivor celebrates his second chance at life
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Cape Town- An eight-year-old blood disorder survivor celebrated his second chance at life after his sister saved his life when she became his donor match.
“I am so grateful to my big sister for her bravery and that she was able to save me. I feel so happy now that I can play and have fun again,” said survivor Luthando Sibiya.
In celebration of this special day Sibiya, and his mother, Lindiwe Sibiya, joined DKMS Africa in celebration of Sunflower Day in an effort to spread awareness for others suffering from blood disorders and cancers.
DKMS formerly known as the Sunflower Fund said according to their global company in Germany every 27 seconds someone is diagnosed with a blood disorder. To help the many patients in the country, DKMS Africa has been on a mission to raise funds for people suffering from blood disorders and blood cancers. This has been done through their flagship fundraising campaign, Sunflower Day, which takes place today through the sale of the Tubes of Hope (TOPES).
“Many of these patients require a blood stem cell from a matching donor in order to survive, but only approximately 30 percent find a matching donor within their family, the other 70 percent rely on a donation from a stranger that could be anywhere in the world. It is therefore key for organisations such as DKMS Africa to advocate for the plight of so many blood disorders and blood cancer patients. There are several misconceptions about blood disorders in general, and blood stem cell transplants, and therefore the work of creating and reinforcing awareness and education is ongoing. We work with different organisations to debunk myths about stem cell transplants and encourage more people to register to be part of the global registry,” said Alana James, country executive director for DKMS Africa.
When Sibiya was five his mother woke up to him coughing blood in his sleep. According to his mother her little boy seemed healthy when he went to bed that night. When the blood wouldn’t stop, she called an ambulance and he got admitted to hospital. From there, their lives changed forever.
Following blood tests, the Sibiya’s found out that he was suffering from a rare blood disorder, aplastic anaemia. According to the Leukaemia Foundation, aplastic anaemia occurs when one’s bone marrow fails to produce enough blood cells. If left untreated, this blood disorder can be fatal and in some instances, a blood stem cell transplant is the only viable treatment option for patients with severe aplastic anaemia.
He was one of the lucky 25 percent of blood disorder sufferers who found a donor match – from a relative, said DKMS.
Sibiya, who currently lives in a CHOC residence, originally comes from KZN. His transplant was done at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Luthando’s 9-year-old sister, Lusanda, was a 100% match and became his donor.
“My son Luthando, was diagnosed with a fatal blood disorder in 2018. Luckily for him, his sister Lusanda was a match and could donate her blood stem cells. She was only nine when she donated. The process was very simple, and, if she could do it I, believe anyone can. Registering can help save the lives of people and children suffering from blood disorders. One person can make a big change. I request and encourage South Africans to register to become blood stem cell donors as it is a very easy process,” said Lindiwe.
His sister Lusanda, said her mom explained what was happening to her. “I was scared but I did it because I knew that I would be able to save my brother. Because of this my brother and I are even closer than before, other people can do it too,” she said.