By Daniel Itai, Johannesburg, South Africa
South Africa will soon become the first country in the world to allow those under the age of 18 to donate their bone marrow.
This is as a result of a global shortage of bone marrow donors which has resulted in many losing their lives and the price of bone marrow transplant going beyond the reach of many.
“We only have 74 000 donors who are 18 years or older with the majority of them not being youths which at times creates problems as some end up having underlying conditions which might not make them to be able to donate.
Henceforth, the need of including 16 and 17 year olds and of course if they decide to donate we first get in contact with their parents or guardians.
With this initiative, we hope to increase the number of young people donating as the numbers are low at between 8 and 25 percent. We also need other races to be involved because at this juncture most of the donors are Caucasians,” said Dr. Charlotte Ingram, CEO and Medical Director of the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR).
Dr. Ingram also shared some insight into why people should donate their bone marrow, “it helps treat blood diseases like leukemia and other blood related diseases. Moreover, it can be the determining factor between life and death and its expensive hence the need for more people to donate.”