Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

South Africa: Bone Marrow Transplant - a Donation That Saves a Life

analysis

A bone marrow transplant can be the only way of saving the life of an adult or child with a terminal bone marrow disorder like leukemia. But only 30% of such patients will be able to find a bone marrow match within their own family.

For 21 years, the South African Bone Marrow Registry has worked to attempt to match South Africans with donors outside their family - and often outside the country. One of their patients recently flew to Taiwan to meet the donor whose bone marrow saved his life.

This is his story.

The year 2013 marks the ten-year anniversary of a diagnosis that was to turn Amrith Singh's life upside down. Johannesburg-based Singh, who works within freight logistics, was 35 years old in 2003, when he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia.

"They initially put me onto oral medication, and it didn't work. I started getting jaundice and my liver was affected," says Singh today. "We stopped for a while, and then tried again. I started getting weaker and weaker and doctors proposed a bone marrow transplant."

Singh's siblings were tested to determine whether they could serve as donors for their brother. But as...

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