life-saving boost for child cancer patients

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

Known locally as the Sunflower Fund, DKMS Africa has announced that they will help eight children in government hospitals in South Africa undergo life-saving blood stem cell transplants on Mandela Day.

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

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

dr. Candice Hendricks, a pediatric hematologist at the Institute of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, said this would bring healthcare to patients with limited financial resources.

“Both the state and the private sector need to work closely together, and the expertise exists in both sectors, so collaboration is critical. An even more important part of successfully achieving this goal is getting as many donors as possible to donate stem cells,” said Hendricks.

A bag of human red blood cell concentrate. Image: File

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

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

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

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