Teenager hopes for ‘life of new dreams’

2013-10-03 00:00

LIVING with an illness that has the power to shut down every organ of the body within a moment, can terrify even the bravest of people, but one young man hopes to fight the toughest battle of his life.

Chase Tanner (16) from the Bluff, Durban was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukaemia in September last year, after starting to experience symptoms of tiredness, weight loss and an aching body.

After one session of chemotherapy, he went into remission, but has unfortunately relapsed. Now all hopes are on finding a bone marrow stem cell donor match. The chances of finding a match are 1:100 000 within the patient’s ethnic group. Both his siblings have already been tested, but neither is a match.

“It only takes two test tubes of blood to become a donor and if you are a successful match, the donor process is as painless as donating blood,” explains Stephanie Berry, PR manager for The Sunflower Fund in KwaZulu-Natal. The fund lobbies for bone marrow stem cell donors in South Africa.

“Bone marrow is no longer surgically removed, but additional white blood cells are harvested directly from the blood stream, much like donating blood or platelets.”

Potential bone marrow stem cell donors are added to the registry for any patient diagnosed with leukaemia.

Berry added: “Anyone not able to donate towards the cost of their test will be placed on a waiting list and when funds become available, their forms will be sent to them. It costs The Sunflower Fund R2 000 to tissue type each blood sample before the results can be included on the South African Bone Marrow Registry, which is why The Sunflower Fund does extensive fundraising. A contribution towards this tissue typing cost, no matter how small, is of tremendous help.”

When asked whether he had a message for the public, Chase responded: “I would like everyone to register as bone marrow stem cell donors, as you could be my or someone else’s only chance of survival. You could be contributing to a life of new dreams for me.”

• For more information on becoming a bone marrow stem cell donor, visit www.sunflowerfund.org.za or phone the toll free number 0800 121 082 weekdays between 8.30 am and 4.30 pm.

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