South Africans are urged to support Sunflower Day on 17 September 2021 by wearing their Tubes of Hope (TOPEs). This is to inspire hope in people who suffer from blood disorders and raise awareness around much-needed blood stem cell transplants.
Funds raised from the sale of the versatile TOPE – the headband, mask, scarf, cap or armband – go towards helping recruit blood stem cell (bone marrow) donors, as well as towards a patient support fund, which helps patients who need financial assistance in getting a transplant.
DKMS Africa (formerly known as the Sunflower Fund) Country Executive Director, Alana James, says Sunflower Day has always been about celebrating and providing hope for blood disorder sufferers.
“Often, the only hope for a cure is a blood stem cell transplantation. Knowing that there are people out there who are willing to donate their stem cells is enormously encouraging for sufferers and their families in the face of often overwhelming challenges,” she adds.
In fact, this year’s Sunflower Day is dedicated to celebrating the power of hope. “In the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu – hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness – this is true for many patients dealing with a blood-related illness. Hope can come in the form of a second chance at life through the loving gesture of a blood stem cell donation,” notes James.
She says there are many misconceptions around stem cell transplants. “Sunflower Day is also about addressing these misconceptions and driving conversations around how easy it is to donate blood stem cells. This should come easily for South Africans, who are the champions of Ubuntu and capable of massive acts of selflessness, compassion and kindness.”
James thanks the amazing efforts of its DKMS partners, paying special tribute to Pick n Pay for its incredible contribution towards helping patients.
Andre Nel, head of sustainability at Pick n Pay, says since 2003, the retailer has proudly carried the Sunflower Day campaign TOPE in its stores countrywide, allowing its customers to support the important work done by DKMS Africa, and for Pick n Pay to help create increased awareness about people suffering from blood disorders.
“We hope that we can help make a difference in the lives of patients by helping ensure they receive the critical treatment they need, as well as make it easier for others in future,” adds Nel.
Registering to donate blood stem cells is painless. It involves three DNA swabs collected from the inside of the mouth and cheeks, and can be done from the comfort of a potential donor’s home.
If a candidate is a match, they will be contacted to donate. The procedure is non-invasive and painless and does not require an operation, anaesthetic or incision.
TOPES are available at Pick n Pay, selected ICPA pharmacies and online at Zando for only R30. They can be worn in a multitude of ways – so let’s make them the hippest fashion accessory on 17 September!
If you are interested in becoming a donor, between the ages of 18-55 and in general good health, please register today. For more information and to register, visit dkms-africa.org, or call 0800 12 10 82.