In 2020, a German based NGO named DKMS and the South African Sunflower Fund joined forces in a partnership that had the potential to change the history of stem cell transplants in South Africa and globally. The following year in March (2021), an amalgamation of the entities was announced, birthing DKMS Africa – and combining two histories of similar organisations to give hope to patients.
With a collective 51-year history of saving lives, in seven countries on 5 continents, we DKMS Africa pride ourselves on being the premier organisation in Africa to recruit donors. Our mission is to create awareness about blood stem cell donation and to maintain a global registry of donors who are representative of the world’s diversity and ethnic background. Our goal is to recruit an ethnically diverse registry of donors committed to helping anyone in need of a life-saving transplant.
Every year, globally thousands of patients with life-threatening blood disorders such as leukaemia, sickle cell disease, aplastic anaemia reach the point where their only chance of survival is a stem cell transplant. “Tissue-types” are hereditary characteristics, which are fundamental in the process of matching donors and patients. 25% of patients may find a match within their family. The remaining 75% are dependent on an unrelated matched donor. Genetically, the likelihood of finding a suitable unrelated matched donor is considerably greater within the same ethnic background. In addition to the understood ethnic diversity of the South African population, the 2011 Census released by StatsSA indicates that there are 2.19 million foreign-born people in South Africa. Research shows that the genomic variances between people of African descent are greater than those observed between European populations. This genetic diversity in African populations poses practical challenges for the transplantation medical community to find HLA-matched unrelated donors for patients in need of live-saving stem cell transplants.
A larger Registry significantly improves a patient’s prospects of finding matching stem cell donors.
In order to continue its valuable work, DKMS Africa relies solely on financial assistance from its dedicated funders – consisting of individuals, companies and trusts and foundations. All donations help us to get more patients to transplant.