DKMS Africa is rallying South Africans to start the new year by helping get teacher Zweli back to his classroom; he needs to find a blood stem cell donor.
South Africa (24 January 2023) – DKMS Africa is rallying South Africans to help get primary school teacher Zweli back to his classroom this year. To do so, they are trying to find him a matching donor to help him fight his sudden diagnosis of Severe Aplastic Anaemia.
36-year-old Zweli went to the doctor on the 24th of December 2021 after struggling with his sight, bleeding gums and fatigue. The doctor ran blood tests and on Christmas morning, he was rushed to the hospital to receive his diagnosis. His illness has meant he was unable to get back to his classroom in 2022 and now, the hope is a match can be found so he can get back as soon as possible.
DKMS Africa hopes to find him a blood stem cell donor who can save his life. Given that only a third of patients find a matching donor in their family, Zweli needs a perfect stranger to save his life.
Crediting his wife as his source of hope, he expressed his deep admiration for her strength and thanked God for blessing him with a lifelong companion, a supportive family, and colleagues.
You can register here.
How to help and why you should
DKMS Africa shared that a blood stem cell is an immature cell that can develop into all types of blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Blood stem cells are found in the peripheral blood and the bone marrow. Also called a hematopoietic stem cell.
Registering to become a blood stem cell donor takes 5 minutes on the DKMS website. It’s free, requires no surgery, and does not depend on blood type.
Once registered, a swab kit will be sent to you and then collected so your swabs can be sent to the lab for typing before you are added to the global registry. If you are a match for someone, DKMS will contact you directly.
“The chances of being a match for someone are currently 1 in 100 000 and a South African is diagnosed with a blood cancer or blood disorder every 72 minutes.
Black, Coloured, Indian, and Asian patients have a 19% chance of finding a match and a second chance at life.
Matches are based on tissue type and a patient is most likely to match with someone of the same ethnic group which is why having a diverse donor registry improves the chances of these patients finding a match. You will only be required to donate your stem cells if you are found to be a match for someone.” – DKMS
DKMS has registered over 10.5 million donors globally and facilitated more than 91 000 transplants; this means 91 000 second chances of life for patients suffering from a life-threatening blood disorder.
Having more donors improves the chances that a patient will be able to find their match. Getting more people to register means correcting longstanding misconceptions about what it means to be a bone marrow donor. Being a donor is not as painful, invasive or permanent as many people believe.
If you are between the ages of 18 – 55 and in general good health, request a swab kit at dkms-africa.org. It starts with a swab, and it ends with saving a life!
There are other ways to support blood cancer and blood disorder patients if you are not eligible to donate blood stem cells. You can help DKMS Africa spread awareness, host donor drives, contribute financially and order and distribute swab kits to your network. You can find out more here.