In September 2008, Bafedile Johanna Molefe (48), a teacher at Chipatabane High School in Bronkhorstspruit, was diagnosed with leukaemia. She underwent an autologous transplant and started to feel better immediately as life went back to normal for Bafedile and her family, at least for a few months.
In September 2009, Bafedile’s life changed forever. She received news from her doctor that she had relapsed. Her only option now, is to have a bone marrow transplant, this time hopefully with an unrelated matched donor as she has no siblings to be tested first.
Bafedile’s family, friends and neighbours have been extremely supportive over the past two years as well as helping with finding her a donor by distributing The Sunflower Fund brochures in the community in desperate effort to try recruit more bone marrow stem cell donors onto the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR).
Bafedile has searched the SABMR for a bone marrow stem cell donor already and has been unsuccessful with finding a match so far.
What this means, is that her life rests on new bone marrow stem cell donors being recruited onto the SABMR. Ethnic origin/heritage is very important when matching donors and patients. The ‘markers’ that are tested, when searching for a match, are genetically inherited and often unique to a particular race. There are currently only 17 % of bone marrow donors, on the SABMR, from African, Indian and mixed ethnic background. The shortage of these groups can and will have a severe impact on patients trying to find a matching unrelated donor.
If many more healthy people, between the ages of 18 and 50, from these ethnic groups joined the registry and became a bone marrow stem cell donor, then we could increase Bafedile’s and other patient’s chances of finding a matching donor that could ultimately save their lives.
This is an urgent call to the people of South Africa to call The Sunflower Fund toll free number 0800 12 10 82, weekdays between 9 and 4pm and register to become a bone marrow donor. Bafedile and many more patients are relying on you.
All that is required from you to join the South African Bone Marrow Registry is two test tubes of blood. Two test tubes of blood that could save someone’s life.
The cost of tissue typing all new registered bone marrow stem cell donors is R 1 000 per person, which is why we organise fundraising events to raise the necessary funds to pay for these tests so that The Sunflower Fund can sponsor the tests for those who can’t afford to pay for them.
Three Round Tablers decided to run 350 Miles4Marrow in just eight days trying from Nelspruit to Melrose Arch in JHB in order to assist The Sunflower Fund in raising funds to pay for the tissue typing costs and to create the awareness needed about the urgent need for bone marrow stem cell donors and more specifically, more donors from various ethnic groups. Tarryn Corlett, National Fundraiser and PR Coordinator, was one of the crew members for the eight days for 350Miles4Marrow run. During the second last day, they went to visit Bafedile to hear her story and help her by promising to generate as much awareness as possible.
If you would like to see what the runners have been getting up to for the past 8 days, visit the blog: www.350miles4marrow.blogspot.com.
Come on South Africa; share a little, to save a life!