Sunday, 14 July, 2024
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Too few black bone marrow donors in SA

Black South Africans make up about 47% of all cancer patients but only 5% of donors in the nation's bone marrow registry. The gap between those who may need bone marrow or stem cell transplants, and those able to provide them has deadly consequences for cancer patients, reports Health-e.

The latest available figures from the National Cancer Registry show that in 2008, black South Africans comprised about 47% of cancer patients. Only about 4,000 of South Africa’s 68,000 registered bone marrow donors come from the black community, according to the South African Bone Marrow Registry, public liason Romy Saitowitz, who added that patients' chances of finding a suitable bone marrow or stem cell donor are highest among donors of their own ethnic groups. She added that finding a perfect match is no easy task. Even when donors and patients are from the same ethnic group, the odds of a match are one in 100 000. "It is a highly specialised process," Saitowitz said. "It can take our staff anything from weeks to month depending on the patient's tissue type".

To increase the amount of black donors, the Gauteng Department of Health has embarked on a campaign to increase awareness about the importance of becoming donor among black families. "We are trying to get people into the habit of donating," said Gauteng MEC for Health Qedani Mahlangu. Mahlangu added that sometimes beliefs stand between people and donating.

[link url=""]Full Health-e report[/link]
[link url=""]Archived articles on organ donation[/link]

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