International cricketer, JP Duminy has his sights set on raising R400 000 in conjunction with the South African Bone Marrow Registry – the figure that’s still needed this year for them to match donors with patients, suffering from life-threatening blood disorders who can’t afford it.

Alicia Venter, Head of Patient Services at the SABMR says for many who don’t have medical aid, the costs associated with finding a donor are a barrier to getting the life-saving treatment they need.

“These costs include the search for an unrelated donor match in cases where no suitably matched donors are found among family members, testing and verification, the procurement and transportation of stem cells (from anywhere in the world), as well as travel and accommodation of the donor should the collection centre be far from home. Costs related to bone marrow stem cell transplants from international donors are more than double that of local donors.

“Our Patient Assistance Programme is available to patients who are unable to obtain adequate funds for the treatment or in cases where their medical aid doesn’t cover donor searches, despite appeal,” explains Venter.

The SABMR’s Give a Little Save a Life campaign, which kicks off on 10 December is being steered by Duminy, who is a long-time ambassador for the registry.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in all the SABMR’s events being cancelled, which usually brings in the bulk of the funds annually for the Patient Assistance Programme.

Right now, there are two young South Africans awaiting bone marrow stem cell transplants, whose families can’t afford the cost of finding a donor.

“One is a 6-year-old boy from Gauteng who has been diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukaemia and the other a 19-year-old girl from the Free State who has Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Their only hope of survival is a stem cell transplant. By rallying together, we can raise the funds to make it a reality and give them the second chance they deserve. In my life, I’ve experienced many exhilarating moments – both on and off the field – and wish the same for these two young patients and others who are in a similar position. If you have the means to give, even if it’s just R50, you’ll never regret it.” 

At any given time, there are more than 200 patients in SA that need a bone marrow transplant – unfortunately, many of whom can’t afford it. While it’s been a tough year with very little funding coming in, the SABMR managed to redirect funds from its own reserves toward the programme. This has helped to cover some of the key costs associated with finding suitably matched unrelated donors for eight patients.

Kamiel Singh, Head of Sustainability at the SABMR says while this year’s Give a Little Save a Life campaign will be solely online, he hopes it will galvanise a new generation of social media-savvy fundraisers that will support the SABMR’s efforts. 

“Social media enables people to engage with each other and healthcare in ways that were almost unimaginable a decade ago. By combining the power of social media and sporting heroes such as JP Duminy, we hope to raise enough funds to make a real difference to the lives of hundreds of patients suffering from blood disorders in the coming year,” says Singh.  

Donations toward the registry’s Patient Assistance Programme can be made via https://www.backabuddy.co.za/sabmrgivealittle and www.sabmr.co.za where there are various payment options available.

The SABMR’s Give a Little Save a Life campaign can be followed on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sabonemreg/  Twitter https://twitter.com/sabonemreg and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/sabonemreg