Quilts generate funds for cancer patients

2018-10-03 06:02
Maritsa van Schalkwyk with the quilt she designed to generate funds for the foundation. Photo:KAILIN DANIELS

Maritsa van Schalkwyk with the quilt she designed to generate funds for the foundation. Photo:KAILIN DANIELS

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“HOPE begins with you” – this is the driving-force initiated by the Sunflower Fund, which is striving to better the livelihood of people fighting blood diseases through the recruitment of stem cell donors.

One of the volunteers at the Sunflower Fund, Marista van Schalkwyk, has a profound love for making quilts and is using this to assist the foundation in raising funds.

“It all started with making quilts to raise funds for the Sunflower Fund. The quilts are made from the sunflower bandanas, which are sold in most stores.

“I bought the bandanas to raise funds as well,” Van Schalkwyk said.

The foundation’s vision is to save lives of individuals diagnosed with blood diseases like leukaemia by increasing the number of patients making it to transplant.

The funds raised pay for the tissue type testing, which is done through their partnership with Lancet laboratories and through working closely with the blood banks.

“They only provide the funds for testing of people between the ages of 18 to 48.

“Donors up until the age of 60 are still acceptable, but they will have to pay for their own tests. However, their aim is to recruit among the youth, which will be able to stay on the registry for a longer period.”

The Sunflower Fund hosts various events to create awareness and most importantly, to help save lives.

“We host a gala evening every year and sell tickets to raise funds. This year we have the African Dream theme and I made a quilt with the theme in mind.

“The quilt is made from 432 pieces of material, which are cut out and sewn together.”

The quilts are sold on auction at the gala event, which contributes to the fund to cover the costs of education and awareness.

“I made a quilt last year as well, which was sold for R5 000. The buyer decided to give the quilt back to be sold on auction again. It was sold again for R5 000.

“We have made a whopping R10 000 for one quilt. We have raised just under R60 000 last year and I have received over R30 000 in donations,” said Van Schalkwyk

There is a very low number of registered donors across the African continent, leading to too few patients finding a match and making it to transplant.

“The most incidents of patients with leukaemia are in the Eastern Cape and we want to make people more aware of that. We need more blood donors in our province. I’m also on the registry as a possible donor and I’m waiting for that call to be able to help someone.”

The Sunflower Fund also maintains a patient support fund to assist patients who are unable to afford costs associated with getting to transplant. “The fund also makes provision for those actively involved in creating a platform for support structures to assist patients, families and communities.

“It’s not a death sentence. If you can find a donor and get a match, you will be able to have a second chance at life,” said Van Schalkwyk.

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