Leukaemia patient’s brother steps up as donor

2010-04-06 00:00

MARITZBURG College pupil Josh Rencken, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoid leukaemia in December, needs funds for his treatment.

Josh, in grade 11, is undergoing chemotherapy in preparation for his stem cell transplant in Cape Town. Fortunately for him, his brother Matthew, who is 23, is a perfect match for the transplant.

Said Fenella Speed, their aunt and fundraising organiser, “Josh is very lucky to have found a match in his brother, Matthew, but it may have been very different for him had they not been compatible, and I would like to create some awareness of the importance of increasing the bone marrow registry for people who need to rely on unrela­ted matches.”

Speed said Josh “is passionate about sport with cricket being his first love. He was selected for the first XI cricket team for this season, but has not been able to play a game due to his illness.”

She called Josh “a very easy-going, fun-loving boy” and went on to praise his uncomplaining attitude and happy disposition.

“… it has taught us all a great deal,” Speed added.

ON April 16, a fundraiser will be held at Maritzburg College — a talk by Rob Caskie of Fugitives’ Drift about the battle of Rorke’s Drift. Caskie has worked at Fugitives’ Drift for nine years and is an internationally acclaimed speaker.

Drinks and snacks will follow the talk in the Alan Paton Hall. A cash bar will be available, and the proceeds will go toward Josh Rencken’s treatment.

The talk starts at 5.30 pm for 6 pm. Tickets will be available from Maritzburg College at R80 for adults and R50 for pupils from Monday, April 12. Call 033 342 9376 for details.

A fundraising four-ball alliance golf day will be held on April 16 at Cato Ridge, with tee-off at 11 am. The cost to enter is R200.

Contact Lauren at 082 825 8971 for more information about sponsorships, prizes and the event itself.

THE Sunflower Fund is a non-profit organisation with the sole purpose of raising mo­ney to pay for the tissue-typing of potential bone marrow stem cell donors, in turn building the Bone Marrow Registry of South Africa and giving patients with leukaemia and other life-threatening blood disorders the hope of finding their one-in-100 000 ­donor match.

It is possible for a sibling to be a donor match — a 25% chance — but most patients are not so lucky. It is highly unlikely that this life-saving donor match will be found outside of a patient’s ethnic group, which means, in South Africa, that 100 000 people from the four prominent ethnic groups — black, coloured, Indian and white — need to be educated and recruited.

Although it takes only two test tubes of blood to become a donor, it costs R1 000 to tissue-type the blood sample before it can be entered in the registry. To create an effective and representative registry for all South African patients, the Sunflower Fund has to raise R40 million.

For prospective donors called up as a match for a patient, the procedure entails only donating blood; no surgery is involved.

Consider becoming a donor and phone the toll-free call centre at 0800 12 10 82.

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