I first stumbled upon the Sunflower fund in 2014 after a failed blood donation left me frustrated. I do not know why but my sort of charity is primarily health related, I do what I can. There are a lot of ways to give back but I was particularly struck by the Sunflower fund’s focus on building an efficient South African Bone Marrow Registry.
Why a bone marrow registry? Well we all know that cancer has become rampant across all ages and races, one way which was found to help is bone marrow transplantation. Bone marrow transplantation and peripheral blood stem cell transplantation are procedures that restore stem cells destroyed by some types of cancer, and other blood diseases like sickle cell anaemia. The odds of finding a match are 1:100 000, so there is an urgent need to get as many people (not necessarily South Africans) as possible tested, evaluated and registered because with cancer, you honestly never know.
It takes just two test tubes of blood to become registered as a stem cell donor, but it the tissue typing of each sample at the required molecular (DNA) level currently costs The Sunflower Fund R2 000 per test. Donors are asked to make a voluntary contribution to this expense, but most of these costs are covered by The Sunflower Fund’s fundraising efforts.
Once the blood samples have been analysed, the individuals’ genetic information is then stored on the SABMR’s (South Africa Bone Marrow Registry) searchable database until the prospective donor turns 60 years old, which is the mandatory retirement age.
So let’s say for some reason you are unable to donate some stem cells, worry not. This is where the Sunflower Fund gets creative. For some years they have released bands and other items available for purchase usually from any Pick n Pay across the country, which goes to the fund. You can also make a direct donation on their website http://www.sunflowerfund.org.za . They also run school competitions to get children involved in the fight against cancer.
This year there are the Topes on sale in different colors, they are multi purpose so the whole family can join in. They can be used a sweatband, mask, scarf , etc and if you happen to be my size, you can wear it as a boob tube like I did in the featured photos.I like the I AM HOPE caption that comes on them, it appreciates the little you spend and how that is part of a bigger picture that can save a life. 15 September 2017 is Sunflower Day, save the date and look into what you can do to support an organisation set on saving as many lives as possible.