Each year, thousands of South Africans, 75% of whom are children and teenagers under the age of 25, are diagnosed with life-threatening blood disorders like leukaemia, marrow failure and aplasia.
However there is hope.
A diagnosis of this kind does not always have to be life-threatening as there is the chance of a patient undergoing a successful bone marrow stem cell transplant from a healthy bone marrow stem cell donor.
The Sunflower Fund was formed in 1999 by Tina Botha, Founder and CEO, and a group of parents whose children has contracted leukaemia and in some cases lost their battle against it. The Fund was inspired by the heroic struggle of Tina’s son, Chris Corlett, and others like him. The Odds for a patient to find their matching unrelated donor are 1:100 000. There were only 800 donors on the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR) at the time The Sunflower Fund was born.
Today, The Sunflower Fund, in support of the SABMR, continues to educate and recruit a viable source of well-informed potential bone marrow stem cell donors who are ethnically diverse, in an effort to save the lives of those needing a transplant when suffering from life-threatening blood disorders. .
The Long Term Vision of The Sunflower Fund is to have an effective and up-to-date bone marrow stem cell registry with 400 000+ donors representative of the South African demographics and typed to a more advanced molecular (DNA) level of testing, in order for all patients, who require a life-saving bone marrow transplant, to have access to local and international donor searches and have access to treatment.
In order to achieve even our short term goal of 100 000 stem cell donors on the SA Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR), we need your HELP.
We would like to request your assistance in helping us fund 500 new donors, who are ethnically diverse, which cost us R2000 to test each one to the advanced molecular (DNA) level.
If we raised R100 000.00, we would be closer to achieving both our short and long- term vision for South Africa and ultimately save more lives.
The Sunflower Fund is a registered Non-Profit Company (NPC) and is the only organisation in South Africa and 1 of 2 on the African Continent which educates and recruits potential bone marrow stem cell donors and pays for the tissue typing tests for the inclusion on the SABMR.
The Sunflower Fund has achieved the following milestones since its inception:
- Involved the South African National Blood Services (SANBS) and PathCare laboratories around South Africa to assist in taking donor blood samples.
- Involved National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) and SANBS to tissue typing the donor blood samples.
- Undertaken educational talks at schools, universities and companies to foster awareness.
- Organised national education and awareness via electronic, radio and print media.
- Started extensive fundraising campaigns such as The Annual Sunflower Balls, Golf Days and other events in order to raise funds necessary to pay all donor testing costs.
- The Sunflower Fund National Bandana Day was initiated in 2003; this event has been instrumental in raising millions, which has been one of the key reasons behind the growth and success of the organisation.
- Established a National Toll Free call centre for donor recruitment, counselling and information dissemination.
- Established itself nationally with a Head Office in Cape Town and opened Regional PR and Donor Recruitment Offices in Gauteng, Western Cape and KZN.
- To date The Sunflower Fund has paid millions for donor testing to increase the SABMR from only 800 donors in 1999 to over 65 000 donors to date.