Every year, thousands of people with blood cancers and disorders reach a critical point where the only possible cure for their condition—and perhaps their only chance at survival—is a bone marrow transplant.
Most patients do not have a compatible family donor and need assistance from a donor registry to locate a compatible unrelated donor. That’s where we come in. The South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR) was founded in Cape Town in 1991 with a single mission: to save lives by helping more patients in need of a bone marrow transplant find their miracle match.
For thirty years, we’ve connected hundreds of South African patients—and many international patients—with lifesaving donors, provided support to patients and their loved ones throughout their transplant journey, and recruited new donors to increase the chances that every patient finds a match. We’re working hard to reach our goal of 100 000 registered donors in South Africa, but we need your help.
Help us give hope to every patient in need of a bone marrow transplant, by registering to be a bone marrow donor!
What is bone marrow?
Bone marrow is the tissue in the body where blood cells are produced. These are important to the immune system: they carry oxygen, fight infection, and prevent bleeding. A transplant replaces the patient’s diseased bone marrow with healthy bone marrow stem cells, provided by a donor at no harm to their own body.
How does the process work?
Once a physician contacts the SABMR with a patient in need, we activate a donor search and contact any potential donors. After we’ve verified a match, we help coordinate the donation from start to finish, walking the donor through preparations and arranging transport and accommodation for them and a companion to visit a nearby donation centre. When the donation is complete, we transport the donor’s stem cells to the patient’s transplant centre, where the patient has been prepared to receive them.
Isn’t donating painful and risky?
Not anymore. Most donors nowadays donate through a virtually painless process called peripheral blood stem cell donation, which is done through the blood and completed in about six hours without anaesthesia or surgery. Rarely, if the patient is very young, a donation may still require surgery, but this is not common.
By donating, you are not putting yourself at increased risk of illness. You are only donating extra cells your body doesn’t need, produced by an injection before you donate. After donating, your body continues to produce healthy blood.
Are transplants expensive?
Donating is free, but unfortunately, donor procurement can be expensive for patients because it requires laboratory costs. That’s why we have our Patient Assistance Programme, through which we can allocate funds to patients with insufficient medical aid, to help cover costs of donor search, testing, and donation.
How do I register?
Anyone ages 16 to 45 in general good health can sign up. All it takes is the completion of an online health questionnaire and a cheek swab, which can be done at many pharmacies or in a kit couriered to you anywhere in South Africa, including rural areas, free of charge.
Information supplied by SABMR
Click below to download the info document
I proudly an ambassador for the SABMR, if you have any questions please do let me know. If you would like to know how to put a Drive together you can see my post here: https://shanfourie.co.za/how-to-set-up-a-blood-stem-cell-drive/