Becoming a donor easier than you think – Randfontein Herald

By daniellenierenberg

When thinking about donating bone marrow, most will break out in a cold sweat.

The thought of needles, prodding and poking is enough to put anyone off from becoming a donor but Ndinae Muligwe, Sustainability and Donor Recruitment Coordinator for the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR) explained that it is a less complicated and relatively painless process.

The SABMR was established in 1991 and is a non-profit organisation that conducts searches to find matching bone marrow donors for critically ill children and adults in South Africa who cannot find a match in their own families.

Bone marrow transplants help to treat and even sometimes cure illnesses like leukaemia, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, bone marrow failure, and some genetic blood and immune-system disorders.

Ndinae explained that the likelihood of a donor finding a match is about one in 100 000. What is more concerning is that there are currently only around 74 000 local donors on the South African Bone Marrow Registry.

Although they do form part of the World Marrow Donor Association that represents about 38 million donors, there are not enough donors for the South African demographic.

Ethnicity plays a role when it comes to who is able to donate, and at the moment the numbers do not match the ethnic groups represented in South Africa. You are more likely to find a match within your own ethnic group.

But how do you become a donor and what is the process involved?

Ndinae said it is as easy as registering on the website. Of course there are some questionnaires to fill in and you will have to meet the criteria and be healthy.

The donating age has recently been lowered from 18 to 16 years of age, and applicants must be between 16 and 45 to register as a potential donor.

If you are eligible you will then be contacted by the SABMR to do a cheek swab free of charge.

Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) collection is the most likely way of collecting stem cells. These cells are found in your bone marrow and also the blood stream. A five-day course of growth factor or Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factors is given prior to the donation to encourage the stem cells to move from your marrow to your blood.

At the time of donation a needle is placed in one arm. The blood is then passed through a machine that collects the stem cells, and the remaining blood is returned to your body similar to donating blood platelets.

You do not have to pay for anything to make a tissue or blood donation of your bone marrow stem cells, the SABMR covers the cost of testing and collection.

Visitwww.sabmr.co.zafor more information.

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Becoming a donor easier than you think - Randfontein Herald

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