SABMR marks three decades of saving lives.
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Cape Town- September marks the 30-year anniversary of the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR).
The SABMR is the only accredited member of the World Marrow Donor Association in Africa and has helped with over 550 bone marrow stem cell transplants since it started.
To celebrate, the registry hosted a virtual concert last week, commemorating its 30-year anniversary with actor/producer Frank Rautenbach as master of ceremonies and SAMA-nominated artist Jarrad Ricketts providing the entertainment. The event aimed to raise awareness and funds for the registry’s patient assistance programme.
SABMR medical director and chief executive Dr Charlotte Ingram said the concert was an opportunity to raise awareness of the work the registry did, as well as to share poignant stories of donors and patients whose lives they have touched over the years.
“Annually, an estimated 4 000 new cases of blood disorders, such as leukaemia and lymphoma, occur in South Africa. For many patients, the best chance of a cure is a bone marrow transplant, also termed a stem cell transplant.
"With thousands of tissue types, the odds of finding a match outside of a patient’s family is one in 100 000, which is like finding a needle in a haystack. For others, who may have inherited unique tissue types, the odds drop even further. The more donors we have across racial demographics, the greater the likelihood of a match and saving a patient’s life,” she said
As the only accredited member of the World Marrow Donor Association in Africa, the SABMR collaborates with expert physicians across South Africa and in over 70 registries worldwide to search locally and internationally for compatible donors for patients in need.
“We are extremely proud to celebrate the registry’s 30th anniversary, which marks a milestone in our journey,” said Ingram.
Donor Connor Newkirk said people mainly know why it is important to donate blood, but many don’t know about marrow and how, by donating, you could potentially save a life.
“And even if we know what it is, we aren’t sure why it is so necessary for the body. There is also a stigma attached,” said Newkirk.
“We all know someone who’s told stories of large needles being put into your spinal column. But there are new procedures that do not include a lumbar punch, making the process less daunting and more comfortable,” he said.
Artist Jarrad Ricketts said he was honoured to have been able to offer his talents and a platform to SABMR to mark their very special milestone.
“I am truly humbled that I could use music to help spread the word on the amazing work they are doing and to celebrate each and every individual who works so hard to ensure that SABMR is able to do what they do.
"As an artist, I realise the important role we play in society, and how powerful our platform can be when we align with people and organisations creating positive change.
In these difficult times, it is so important that we find reasons to celebrate and spread joy, and I am so excited that my company JBR Productions, along with my amazing team, were able to fill so many hearts and minds with hope and upliftment through their 30th anniversary virtual concert,” said Ricketts.