In 2018, just under 1.5 million new cases of blood cancer were recorded worldwide and according to a special report by Discovery Health released in 2018, cancer causes more deaths in SA than HIV/Aids, TB and malaria combined. Even more staggering is the fact detailed in the same report that leukaemia tops the list of top five cancers by cost at R281 455 per case on average.

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

While it’s good to shine the spotlight on these statistics to raise awareness, The Sunflower Fund want to use Bone Marrow Stem Cell donation and Leukaemia awareness month to remind South Africans that they actually can do something to change these statistics. The Sunflower Fund initiated its annual Sunflower Day campaign 16 years ago to get individuals involved in the fight against blood diseases.

The campaign, which is anchored by the sale of the Tube of Hope (TOPE), a multi-purpose accessory, is aimed at raising funds for the recruitment of blood stem cell donors to give the hope of cure to patients diagnosed with life-threatening blood diseases like leukaemia who need a life-saving stem cell transplant. A patient in need of a transplant needs a genetic matching donor.

There is only a 25% chance that a sibling will be a match. The remaining 75% chance depends on finding an unrelated matching donor. The best chance of finding this match is someone from the same ethnic background as the patient. As such, SA needs an ethnically diverse registry of committed donors. The Sunflower Fund pays for the cost of the DNA test to register a donor, which costs R3 100 per donor.

All funds raised through the Sunflower Day campaign go towards these costs. “We encourage individuals between 18-45 years, with a consistent weight of more than 50kgs and a BMI of less than 40 to contact us and register as donors,” Webster added.

Sunflower Day is commemorated on 20 September 2019. TOPES will be on sale from August retailing for R30 at Pick n Pay stores nationwide, selected independent pharmacies, and online at Zando (while stocks last). The design is inspired by the coming together of various African cultures, bringing hope of finding their life-saving match to patients in need of a stem cell transplant.

The TOPE comes in six vibrant colours each symbolising hope and depicting ‘HopeTags’.

WHAT’S YOUR #HOPETAG?

Blue: Confident

Pink: Courageous

Yellow: Optimistic

Purple: Selfless

Green: Strong

Orange: Brave

Get your favourite hope tag colour and make a statement in support of individuals with blood diseases.