Capetonian’s committed mountain climbing helps fund stem cell drive | Cape Times – Independent Online



Capetonian Andrew Patterson (left) climbed Table Mountain every day since the start of 2018 to raise funds for the Sunflower Fund and two other charities he supports. Photo: Supplied
Cape Town – Capetonian Andrew Patterson decided last year that he wants to make a difference in the lives of others.

He climbed Table Mountain every day since the start of 2018 to raise funds for the Sunflower Fund and two other charities he supports.

To date, he has donated R30 000 to the fund, which resulted in 10 new donors being recruited in May this year. Patterson has recently raised another R60 000 that can fund the recruitment of 20 more donors.

The Sunflower Fund has appealed to the public to register as a blood stem cell donor to possibly save a life. Blood diseases like leukaemia, aplastic anaemia, sickle cell disease and myeloma to name but a few, can affect anyone.

The fund said many patients diagnosed with blood diseases will find themselves in need of a life-saving blood stem cell or bone marrow transplant from a matching donor.

The chances of a sibling or family member match is only 25%.

Most patients’ hopes are dependent on that 75% chance of finding an unrelated matching donor.

Two of the critical challenges faced by registries in the hopes of donor/patient matching are funding to cover the cost of the DNA tissue-typing test required to register donors and, secondly, the response from people of all ethnicities to voluntarily register as blood stem cell donors.

“If you are between 18 and 45 years of age, weigh more than 50kg, have a BMI of less than 40 and are willing to help anyone for whom you may be a match, we would like to appeal to you to become a donor,” said Sunflower Fund spokesperson Kim Webster.

“The process to register takes less than 10 minutes and involves two test tubes of blood being drawn.”

The blood samples are sent away for a DNA tissue-typing test and the results are captured on the registry.

There is no cost to register and no cost if you are a match for a patient and are called upon to donate.

“You can only ever donate once in your life, so you will stay on the registry until you’ve been a match for a patient or until the age of 60, whichever comes first.”

The fund also teamed up with Strandfontein AFC for a stem cell donor drive at their annual junior players’ awards presentation taking place at Strandfontein Sports Complex last month.

“We encourage all parents, friends and families of our members to consider registering as donors,” Strandfontein AFC Junior Club chairperson Natasha Hendricks said.

“We can all do something simple and selfless to save a life and why wouldn’t we, that is what community is all about.”

To become a donor, support one of the fund-raising projects or make a financial contribution, contact the Sunflower Fund on toll-free number: 0800 121 082 or visit www.sunflowerfund.org.za

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