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DKMS Africa Sets Aside R2m For Blood Stem Cell Treatment For SA’s Child Cancer Patients

  • 4 min read

DKMS Africa (formerly known as The Sunflower Fund) has approved the budget of over R2 million (EUR 140.000) for the state patient program to facilitate access to transplantation for eight pediatric state patients between the ages of 0 to eight years, by covering costs that are not covered by the public health care system. These include the procurement of matched unrelated donor stem cells, with a national or international unrelated donor, as well donor search and patient‘s DNA typing. 

Patients will be identified by the participating transplant doctors and donor suitability will be ascertained by an independent clinicians’ panel.

Alana James, Country Executive Director of DKMS Africa says this initiative will make it possible for eight children in South Africa’s public healthcare to receive life-saving blood stem cell transplants and will serve as a springboard for further ventures of its kind. 

Earlier this year, DKMS Africa made an impassioned call to the government to support more blood disorder patients by paying for sibling typing. DKMS Africa is engaging policymakers on its recommendations. 

Currently, for a State patient with no sibling match – the State will not cover any unrelated donor-related costs, including high-resolution HLA typing, but will cover the cost of the transplant itself. There is both capacity and skill available in the State Transplant Clinics, but few transplants take place. 

Dr Candice Hendricks, a Paediatric Haematologist at the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine says the State Programme will bring access to healthcare to patients with constrained financial resources. “Both the state and private sectors need to work closely together, and the expertise exists in both sectors, therefore collaborations are vitally important. An even more important component to successfully meeting this goal is to get as many donors as possible to donate stem cells.”

James concluded that building a strong trust relationship with the government and the state transplant community is essential. Public-private partnerships are key in the success of initiatives such as this one, especially since DKMS hopes to turn this programme into an ongoing venture. After implementing the pilot project, we will assess the process and results, and based on the outcomes and available budget, we hope to continue and expand this programme.”

Furthermore, she said, “DKMS Africa has a proven record of putting patients first, and this financial injection attests to that commitment.  “Building a strong trust relationship with the government and the State Transplant community is key to us, and so is the promotion of public/private partnerships and collaborations with organisations, the South African Stem Cell Transplant Society (SASCeTS)”.

While this noble venture is in keeping with the spirit of Mandela Day, it is also a gift that keeps on giving – this life-saving program will give a second chance at life to the lives of children and their families.


How the public and corporates can support the cause: 

For July (Mandela Month), DKMS Africa encourages organisations and corporates to register to become donors. Over the past couple of months, DKMS Africa has welcomed the support of blood stem cell registration champions who have taken it upon themselves to recruit donors on our behalf. We are grateful for these warriors. In a few cases, the most successful donor drives came from corporations. We invite organisations and corporates to champion the cause by requesting bulk swab kits to register interested donors. DKMS Africa will facilitate training. 

Swab kit requests can be made for any number of staff by getting in touch with one of the following people: 

Alternatively, contact 0800 12 10 82. or you can also visit: