Black and African stem cell donors urgently needed to save KZN mom’s life and that of others.
“I Just Want to Be Able to Raise My Kids”
Juliet, a 38-year-old mom of two from KwaZulu-Natal suffers from leukaemia. The upbeat mom with a bubbly personality says her only wish is for God to grant her time to raise her children.
“Leukaemia is a cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue like bone marrow and produces an excessive amount of abnormal white blood cells into the bloodstream. Normally, white blood cells are powerful infection fighters. But in people with leukaemia, these cells don’t function properly, and they crowd out the red blood cells and platelets the body needs to be healthy,” says Palesa Mokomele, Head of Corporate Communications at DKMS Africa.
Leukaemia is not foreign to Juliet and her family. Many years ago, her mother was diagnosed with the same disorder and fought bravely, but ultimately lost her life. “I was very scared and shocked that I had the same illness that took uMama, but technology has changed so much now, and that gives me hope.”
Juliet realised something was wrong when she felt dizzy, had blurry vision, persistent headaches, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
Mokomele explains that Juliet’s best hope for a second chance at life is a stem-cell transplant. “What’s more, her ideal donor is likely to be found among Black people and those of African descent. This is because blood stem cell matches are based on tissue type and not blood type so there needs to be a high degree of similarity between the tissue characteristics of the donor and patient. What this means is that her ideal genetic match is someone of the same ethnic background, a Black South African.”
“I want to be able to build a home for my kids, my sisters’ children, and my late brother’s children. You never realise the importance of becoming a donor until it happens to your family. I urge everyone to educate themselves about blood cancer and to register, you might just save a life,” pleads Juliet.