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Mandela Day: life-saving boost for child cancer patients

Sunflower Fund patron Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu with a cancer patient.

Sunflower Fund patron Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu with a cancer patient.

Published Jul 14, 2021

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Sunflower Fund patron Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu with a cancer patient.

DKMS Africa, which used to be known locally as the Sunflower Fund, has announced that this Mandela Day they will be able to assist eight children at government hospitals in South Africa to receive life-saving blood stem cell transplants.

The children are eight years old and younger and will be assisted with the “procurement of matched unrelated donor stem cells, with a national or international unrelated donor.”

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The NGO said it has been able to set aside R2 million for this life-saving initiative.

Dr Candice Hendricks, a paediatric haematologist at the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine, said this would bring healthcare to patients with constrained financial resources.

“Both the state and private sectors need to work closely together, and the expertise exists in both sectors, therefore collaborations are vitally important. An even more important component to successfully meeting this goal is to get as many donors as possible to donate stem cells,” said Hendricks.

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A bag with human red blood cell concentrate. Picture: File

The NGO said: “Currently, for a state patient with no sibling match – the State will not cover any unrelated donor-related costs, including high-resolution HLA typing (a genetic test), but will cover the cost of the transplant itself. There is both capacity and skill available in the state transplant clinics, but few transplants take place.”

In March, The Sunflower Fund joined DKMS Global which has extended its resources and network to assist patients.

DKMS, Deutsche Knochen Mark Spenderdatei or German Bone Marrow Donor File, is an international NGO with 30 years’ experience in fighting blood cancer. The organisation has registered more than 10.5 million donors and has one of the most diverse donor pools in the world.

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