The Sunflower Fund – Fighting Blood Diseases and Saving Lives

The Sunflower Fund is a blood donor recruitment centre and registry. It fights blood diseases like leukaemia through the recruitment of stem cell donors and maintaining a registry of potential donors committed to helping anyone in need of a life-saving stem cell transplant.

South Africa, and Africa generally, has a very low number of registered blood donors, leading to too few patients finding a match and making it to transplant. The Sunflower Fund’s vision is to save lives of individuals diagnosed with blood diseases by increasing the number of patients making it to transplant, and aims to recruit 100 000 blood stem cell donors of African ancestry by 2030 as part of the Stem Cell Registry Alliance (SCRA).

The formation of The Sunflower Fund was inspired by the heroic struggle against leukaemia of two brave young men, Darren Serebro and Chris Corlett, and the organisation was formally established in 2000 by a group of concerned parents whose children had contracted leukaemia, and sadly, in some cases had lost their battle against it.

The Sunflower Fund raises funds to cover the cost of education and awareness about the need for and the process to become a blood stem cell donor, as well as the cost of the HLA tissue-typing test involved in the recruitment of donors. It also maintains a patient support fund to assist patients who are unable to afford costs associated with getting to transplant, as is actively involved in creating support structures to assist patients, families, and communities.

The Sunflower Fund’s impact and successes include:

  • More than 70 000 donors recruited to date;
  • Over R1.6 million spent on patient support;
  • Increased level of tissue-typing to 11 Loci in January 2018;
  • The Sunflower Fund’s stem cell registry for Africa was confirmed on 21 March 2018.

The Sunflower Fund’s partners and networks with a wide range strategic stakeholders in support of its activities, including the Stem Cell Registry Alliance World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA), Cancer Alliance, Lancet Laboratories, Centre for Proteomic and Genomic Research (CPGR), Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and Childhood Cancer Network South Africa.

Daily, patients around the world are diagnosed with blood diseases. Deaths due to blood diseases are recorded at the same rate. A major challenge facing The Sunflower Fund is that for patients of African descent or mixed ethnicity, the chance of survival is dramatically reduced as the possibility of finding an unrelated matched donor is 1:100 000. With the lack of registered donors from these ethnic backgrounds, many doctors do not even engage in the search for a match.

“Together we can fight life-threatening blood diseases. Be somebody’s hope for life by registering to be a stem cell donor, donating money or volunteering.”

Click here to make a donation to The Sunflower Fund, or register to join its stem cell registry.

Contact details:

Tel: +27 21 701 0661 / 0800 12 10 82
Twitter: @SunflowerFund
Facebook: @TheSunflowerFund
Instagram: thesunflowerfund
LinkedIn: The Sunflower Fund

This is the twenty-ninth NGO profile of my 2018 #NGOs4Africa Campaign.

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