The Sunflower Fund, a National Non-Profit Company (NPC), is an organisation in South Africa dedicated to creating awareness, educating the public and handling the registration process for people to join the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR). The Sunflower Fund pays for the test cost of people joining the SABMR.
By increasing the number of donors listed on the national database, this offers hope to children and adults diagnosed with leukaemia and other life-threatening blood disorders. Higher numbers on the Registry increase their chance of finding matching bone marrow stem cell donors in order to undergo life-saving bone marrow stem cell transplants.
What We Do
Education, awareness, recruitment and testing of donors are inextricably linked. The one activity cannot happen in isolation of the other. In order to continue this valuable work, The Sunflower Fund relies solely and requires ongoing assistance from the general public and Corporate SA.
It takes just two test tubes of blood to become registered as a bone marrow stem cell donor but it costs The Sunflower Fund R2000 to tissue type that sample at the required molecular (DNA) level. The blood samples are analysed and the individuals data is then stored on the SABMR until the age of 60 years old.
Our Vision for the Future
The probability of finding a match within your own ethnic group is 1:100 000, which means in South Africa we need to recruit 100 000 of each of the four prominent ethnic groups – Black, Coloured, Indian and White.
To have an effective bone marrow stem cell registry with 400 000 donors representative of the South African demographics and typed at a molecular (DNA) level. This will offer all people suffering from life-threatening blood disorders, access to a local donor search to find their match for a life-saving stem cell transplant.
Our Strategic Objectives
The Sunflower Fund has assisted in increasing the number of donors on the SABMR to over 71 000 (30th September 2015). But this is clearly not enough. The SABMR is a living registry as Donors are continuously recruited but they are also continuously decreasing due to age, illness and a number of other reasons. It is of vital importance that we recruit donors continuously through the following important objectives:
- Promote public awareness of patients suffering from leukaemia and other life-threatening blood disorders.
- Educate on the need for donor’s representative of all ethnic groups, with a focus on young Black, Coloured and Indian donors.
- Dispel myths surrounding the donation process (NO drilling into one’s bones for extraction of bone marrow).
- Highlight our funding needs in order for us to pay the test costs for individuals to join the SABMR.
- Assist indigent patients, where possible, in meeting the costs of certain local donor searches of The Registry.
80% Targeted South African Ethnic Donors
Many South Africans still face the terrifying prospect of not finding their matching donor on the Registry. Within our rainbow nation we have numerous combinations of tissue types unique to a particular race.
In order to address this issue, part of our strategy is to selectively recruit potential Black, Coloured and Indian donors in targeted recruitment campaigns. The Sunflower Fund strives to provide an equal opportunity for all patients, of all ethnic groups, to find their matching lifesaving donor.