A week after his 12th birthday, Reza Price was diagnosed with a bone marrow deficiency.
Insufficient white blood cells
His parents first thought he was being bullied at school because they noticed he had a lot of bruises. Doctors however soon realised his symptoms were much more serious than they thought and diagnosed him with severe aplastic anaemia.
Severe aplastic anaemia is a disease in which a person’s bone marrow does not make enough white blood cells to protect their body from infection.
As a result, Reza has had to spend a lot of time in hospitals where he got up to two blood transfusions a week. He also had to give up most forms of sport since he bruised too easily.
Despite the high risk, Reza decided to consider a bone marrow transplant. “At the moment I’m in a limbo between risking my life and getting my life back,” says Reza, who just matriculated from Westerford High School.
In 2016, 110 South Africans needed a bone marrow transplant, but with a 1 in 100 000 chance of finding a match, only 23 patients received one. According to the South African Bone Marrow Registry, approximately 30% of patients find a bone marrow match within their families. For Reza this was unfortunately not the case as neither his brother nor sister turned out to be a match.
Chances of a match are small
Despite the disheartening statistics, Reza remains positive and chooses his fights carefully as he patiently waits for a bone marrow match.
“Whatever problems, hardships and difficulties come your way and turns your life upside down, just remember that the people you love and those that love you are always fighting for you and they're the only thing that you need to fight for to live a happy and fulfilling life," he says.
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The SABMR currently has 72 000 registered bone marrow donors on its database, but since the chances of a match are so small, South African based donor recruitment is essential. Here is how you can give a little and save a life:
How to become an eligible donor
- Enrol to become a donor through the Sunflower Fund.
- Get tested by the Sunflower Fund to determine your suitability.
- Once you have enrolled and been tested, the Sunflower Fund will pass your details onto the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR).
- The SABMR will then put you onto the register as a donor and continually do searches for patients in need of a bone marrow transplant.
- Should you be a match, the SABMR will contact you immediately to do confirmatory testing and to arrange for you to donate your stem cells.