This week, TV Host, Faizal Sayed joined other celebrities to be part of a photoshoot organized by The Sunflower Fund, ahead of the August 2017 campaign. The fund and campaign raises awareness around bone marrow transplants and the shortage of donors.
The Sunflower Fund is a South African non-profit organisation dedicated to creating awareness, educating the public and facilitating the registration process for people to join the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR).
Increasing the number of donors listed on the national database offers hope to hundreds of South Africans with blood diseases such as leukaemia who have reached the point where their only chance of survival is a stem cell transplant. A larger Registry significantly improves patients’ prospects of finding matching stem cell donors in order to undergo life-saving stem cell transplants.
Education, awareness and the recruitment and testing of donors are inextricably linked; the one activity cannot happen in isolation of the other. They are an integral part of every project TSF embarks on and these activities include speaking about the role of The Sunflower Fund and the need to build the registry; the donor/patient relationship and the process of a stem cell transplant; and dispelling the myths surrounding stem cell donation process. In order to continue its valuable work, The Sunflower Fund relies solely on financial assistance from its dedicated funders – consisting of individuals, companies and organisations.
It takes just two test tubes of blood to become registered as a stem cell donor, but it the tissue typing of each sample at the required molecular (DNA) level currently costs The Sunflower Fund R2 000 per test. Donors are asked to make a voluntary contribution to this expense, but most of these costs are covered by The Sunflower Fund’s fundraising efforts.
Once the blood samples have been analysed, the individuals’ genetic information is then stored on the SABMR’s searchable database until the prospective donor turns 60 years old, which is the mandatory retirement age.