All about the Sunflower Fund

You’ve seen the bandannas, and you’ve got a feeling it has something to do with blood or cancer – well, here’s the inside story on the Sunflower Fund.

A group of parents whose children had contracted leukaemia were inspired by the brave struggle of two young men, Darren Serebro and Chris Corlett , to start a fund that would support the South African Bone Marrow Registry.

What does the South Africa bone marrow registry do?

The South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR) registers potential bone marrow donors. The organisation co-ordinates the provision of unrelated donors for patients in association with a world wide data base, and it’s already 10.6 million people strong,.

Who needs bone marrow transplants?

Patients with blood diseases such as marrow failure, leukaemia or aplasia can reach a stage where this procedure offers them the only chance of a cure, and this affects thousands of people every year.

Who can be a donor?

Any healthy person between the ages of 18 and 45 can be a donor, and the likelihood of finding a suitable volunteer is greater within the same ethnic background, so donations from all racial groups are needed.

How does bone marrow help patients?

With certain conditions, a patient’s diseased marrow is destroyed by combinations of radiation and highly toxic drugs, and the graft from the healthy donor helps the patient to begin producing normal blood.

What does the South Africa bone marrow registry do?

The SABMR registers potential bone marrow donors. Already 10.6 million participants strong, the organisation co-ordinates the provision of unrelated donors for our patients in association with a world wide data base.

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Why does SABMR need support?

People don’t really know much about donating bone marrow – whether they can, what the procedure is like and where to go. The fund’s aim is to educate people and recruit viable bone-marrow donors.

Lastly, why is it called the Sunflower fund? According to the Sunflower Fund site, Chris Corlett painted the original “Sunflowers of Hope” painting while in isolation. He saw donors as the seeds of hope for patients desperately in need of this treatment, and copies of his painting now hang in all the transplant units in South Africa, as well as one in Australia and one in New Zealand.

To find out more about The Sunflower Fund, visit their site: http://www.sunflowerfund.org.za/