Faizal Sayed urges fellow South Africans to support The Sunflower Fund

Faizal Sayed has always stood in solidarity with cancer sufferers especially children and has always supported the Sun Flower Fund’s Campaigns.  On the show he chats to stalwart staff of the fund about the challenges they face in finding members of the public who may possible be a match as a stem cell donor.

Pertinent information coming forth from this episode reveals that for one to save a life, the process of being a donor is simple and does not involve any type of surgery but may be as simple as donating blood.  This episode also gives us a brief insight into the life of a 13 year old patient and the challenges she faces.  If you would like to possibly save a life and get involved you may contact The Faizal Sayed Show or the fund on the numbers listed below.  “I believe that one can support in a myriad of ways.  If you are unable to get tested, which is free of charge, then donate your time by volunteering or simply purchasing a Bandana thereby contributing”, said Faizal in a brief interview after the show.  He also added that “it only means that we need to take out an hour or two of our time to get tested which can make a difference to a child, a child that could be yours or mine and who is simply seeking a healthy pain free and comfortable life”.


chris darren

The Sunflower Fund was formed in 1999 in support of the SABMR and was inspired by Chris Corlett and Darren Serebro’s heroic struggle against leukaemia. It was formed by parents whose children had contracted leukaemia, and in some cases had lost their battle against it.

Their aim was to secure financial support in order to increase the number of bone marrow stem cell donors in South Africa. With the odds of finding a donor being 1:100 000, the idea is to expand the registry to at least 100 000. You can help by joining the SABMR. All you have to do to be registered on the SABMR is to give two tubes of your blood. We need your fast response and long-term commitment.

The Sunflower Fund aims to educate and recruit a viable source of well-informed potential bone marrow stem cell donors who are ethnically diverse, in an effort to save the lives of those needing a transplant when suffering from life-threatening blood disorders. It strives to maintain the associated donor records of the South African Bone Marrow Registry.


Raising Funds

The Sunflower Fund carries the full responsibility nationally for raising the funds needed to meet the costs of all tissue typing of bone marrow donors for the purposes of increasing the SABMR and has played a major role in enabling the SABMR to expand dramatically from 1 200 to over 67 500 donors over the past 14 years. The Sunflower Fund is a well governed organisation managed by a highly competent Board of Directors comprising of individuals with a variety of skills and expertise. (Current Board comprises of Dr D. Ncayiyana (Chairman), T. Botha (Founder-Director), Dr M. du Toit, B. Jessop, Dr L. Mpuntsha, Y. Naidoo, Prof R. Ramesar, J Sedgwick and Tarryn Corlett (CEO).

The Sunflower Fund, originally founded in Cape Town in 1999, has launched Donor Recruitment & PR centres in Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal, which help in the ongoing recruitment of donors, educating the public and fundraising events to ensure the SABMR continues to increase in numbers, demographic representation and quality of donors typed.

Dedicated Staff

A passionate and dedicated team of staff now runs The Fund and a number of committed volunteers assist with the national call-centre, all awareness drives and fundraising events. Many recruitment drives are held at schools and corporate companies throughout South Africa . Pathcare and Ampath continue to take blood samples of new donors on an ongoing basis in the Western Cape. The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) continues to take blood samples of new donors in KZN, Gauteng and Northern Province regions. The NHLS and the SANBS continue to do the tissue typing tests for us. The Sunflower Fund could not operate without the wonderful support and co-operation received from the SA National Blood Service, NHLS, Pathcare and Ampath.

Fundraising Events

The past year has been an exceptionally busy and productive one with regard to fundraising. Fundraising events during the year included our signature events: Annual Sunflower Golf DayMiles for Marrow Cycle RideAnnual Sunflower Ball and National Bandana Day campaign. Many smaller events are held around S.A. throughout the year.

The Sunflower Fund thanks Pick ‘n Pay for their ongoing commitment to National Bandana Day, where every South African is encouraged to wear a bandana to work, university or school to show their solidarity with those fighting leukaemia and to raise funds for tissue typing. The Minister of Education, Ms Naledi Pandor and Sunflower patron, The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu, Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, endorse National Bandana Day.

The Sunflower Fund is committed to the continued recruitment of new donors, in full support of the SABMR, in order to reach our mutual goal in the interests of all South Africans suffering from life-threatening blood disorders such as leukaemia.


The Sunflower Fund aims to educate and recruit a viable source of well informed potential bone marrow stem cell donors who are ethnically diverse, in an effort to save the lives of those suffering from life-threatening blood disorders. It strives to maintain the associated donor records of the South African Bone Marrow Registry.

Short-Term Goal

The Sunflower Fund’s short-term goal is to increase the SABMR to 100 000 donors and at a cost of R 2000 per donor to test them at the Molecular (DNA) Level, a funding amount of:

  • We have set a target to recruit 6500 donors in 2014 (4500 via our targeted recruitment donor drives and 2000 donors via our call centre)
  • In January 2012, we implemented the new Molecular (DNA) Testing which is more accurate and more advanced but is now going to cost The Sunflower Fund R2 000 per test which means we would have to raise over R13 million.

Please consider this opportunity to assist in motivating potential bone marrow donors to share a little and help save a life. There is no such thing as a small donation – every cent is appreciated.


The formation of The Sunflower Fund in 1999 in support of the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR)was inspired by the heroic struggle against leukaemia of two brave young men, Darren Serebro (1997) and Chris Corlett (2000). It was started by a group of concerned parents whose children had contracted leukaemia, and sadly, in some cases had lost their battle against it.

Chris painted the original “Sunflowers of Hope” painting while in isolation and copies of this now hang in all the transplant units in South Africa , as well as one in New Zealand and one in Australia. Chris saw donors as the “Seeds of Hope” for patients suffering as he was – hence the name “Sunflowers of Hope”

sunflowers of hope smallSunflowers of Hope by Chris Corlett

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“Sunflowers of Hope” was painted by Chris Corlett before his death. Others, in their days of darkness, have done the same. Let the sunflower be a tribute to all those that have not survived and a symbol of hope to all patients in the future.

The fight for hope by increasing the SABMR to help others was continued tirelessly by Mervyn Serebro (father of Darren) and Tina Botha (mother of Chris), who is now CEO of The Sunflower Fund.

Chris Corlett, Darren Serebro, Lindy Anderson, Kate Tomlinson, Nadhir Arnold, Harlin Lepotha, Natalie Colyvas, Turner Kirkland and young baby James Edmonds are all children who fought so bravely but did not survive – largely due to the fact that donors were not found early enough or not at all. There are many, many others, who have been diagnosed with leukaemia and other life threatening blood disorders, whose only hope is a bone marrow stem cell transplant from a healthy donor.


The South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR) is in desperate need of donors from all ethnic groups and mixed ethnic backgrounds.

Without financial support the work of the SABMR would come to a complete halt and bone marrow transplantation would no longer be a treatment option in South Africa.

This is why The Sunflower Fund (Friends of the South African Bone Marrow Registry) was formed in 1999. The Sunflower Fund is a non-profit organisation based in Cape Town, South Africa, with a vision to give all South Africans diagnosed with leukaemia and other life-threatening blood disorders the chance of life, irrespective of their race and financial circumstances.

The Sunflower Fund’s core purpose is to educate, recruit and raise funds to build and sustain an effective SABMR as a viable source of well informed ethnically-diverse potential bone marrow donors so as to meet the national and international requirements and improve the chances of life-saving transplants for serious blood disorder sufferers.

Sunflower Achievements

So far, our efforts – with the support of many others – have increased the donor numbers on the SABMR from a mere 1,200 in 1999 to 67 875 as at 30th September 2014! Also, since April 2003 to 30th September 2014, The Sunflower Fund spent R26 438 827.49 million on tissue typing throughout South Africa. This is a wonderful achievement, yet more needs to be done.

Due to the 1:100 000 chance of finding a compatible donor, at least 100 000 donors are needed for a Registry to function effectively and in South Africa, the Registry should ideally have 400 000 donors representative of all ethnic groups.