Cape Town, 09 February 2024 – Receiving the news that their child has been diagnosed with cancer is devastating for any parent, but this is even worse when they hear that, after 18 months of remission, their little one will need to battle the disease all over again.
This was the case for mom of two Arthie Ishwarlal. Back in 2021, her then two-year-old daughter, Preshthi, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL), a type of blood cancer that affects the bone marrow, white blood cells, red blood cells, and blood platelets. But, despite undergoing inpatient treatment, Preshthi experienced a relapse earlier this year with doctors saying that her only chance for survival is a stem cell transplant from a matching donor. Unfortunately, however, there is no match for her on the country’s stem cell registry at present.
As the world observes International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD) on 15 February, Palesa Mokomele, Head of Community Engagement and Communications at DKMS Africa explains that South Africans can potentially save Preshthi’s life. While there are currently over 73,000 donors on the South African registry, each only has a 1 in 100,000 chance of being a match for a blood cancer patient in need. But exacerbating the situation for little Preshthi is the lack of Indian donors since the best chance of a match comes from within one’s own ethnic group.”
She adds that it is not just Preshthi who needs a stem cell transplant for a second chance at life. “This is often the only treatment offering children with other blood cancers, like lymphomas, any hope of a cure.”
With leukaemia and lymphomas being two of the five most common cancers among South Africa’s youth, with the former accounting for 34% of childhood cancer cases and the latter 11%, Mokomele urges South Africans aged between 17 and 55 who are in good general health to register as donors. “In doing so, you might save a child’s life.”
Register at https://www.dkms-africa.org/register-now . Registration is entirely free and takes less than five minutes.
For further information, get in touch with DKMS Africa at 0800 12 10 82.