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Health And Welfare

A mother’s journey supporting her child through the fight of her life: Anri Moosa

What would you do if there was a call for blood donations in your community, would you sit back or build up the courage to overcome any fears that you may have, to help save the lives of children in need of the donation?

Anri Moosa went through an extraordinary journey with her 11-year-old daughter, Tazkia, who was diagnosed with Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL), a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) that occurs when T-cells (the white blood cells that help fight infection) become abnormal.

Tazkia endured seven weeks of chemotherapy, throughout which she needed to receive blood transfusions to counteract the damage caused by the chemo to her bone marrow. Bone marrow is the factory that produces red cells to carry oxygen, white cells to fight infections and platelets to prevent bleeding. Without these transfusions her little body wouldn’t have been able to win her battle with cancer.

Tazkia is now, thankfully, in remission for the past four months. Anri is incredibly grateful to the selfless donors, as she knows that Tazkia would not be in remission today without the blood transfusions she received along her arduous journey with cancer.

“You always hear the stories of other people, and now we are those other people,” says Anri. “We’ve learned so much in this time, about blood donation and the importance of platelets, about bone marrow; it’s heart breaking to realise that there are only 73,000 people on the bone marrow registry and thousands of people needing a transplant.”

According to the SABMR, there is an urgent need in more donors of colour to sign up to the registry. 

“Currently, there is only a one in 100 000 chance of finding a bone marrow stem cell donor match for patients of European descent. The odds drop even further for patients of other races due to the low donor numbers from these groups. Finding donor matches for patients of mixed ethnic race is even more challenging. South Africa has one of the most culturally diverse groups of people, which translates into an extensive genetic diversity,” CEO and Medical Director Dr Charlotte Ingram explains.

Registering to become a bone marrow donor is simple. If you are between the ages of 16 and 45 and relatively healthy, simply visit www.sabmr.co.za to register your details. Should you be eligible following a medical questionnaire, a buccal swab kit, which only requires your DNA through a cheek swab, will be dispatched to your home, at no cost. The swab kit will then be sent for HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) / genetic typing and your results are added to the SABMR database. Once a search is activated and you’re a match, you will be contacted to establish if you are still able and willing to proceed. This could happen at any time. While some donors are called after three months, others are contacted after 10 or more years.

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