Monday, November 26, 2007

The DWIB Leukaemia Fund

My attention has by chance been drawn to another cancer charity with an emphasis on Africa, the DWIB Leukaemia Fund.

Founded by two expatriate Ghanaians with leukaemia, Danny Whyte and Ivor Burford, the charity’s principal aim is to establish the first bone marrow donor register in sub-Saharan Africa and get it linked to the Global Bone Marrow Register. As Danny and Ivor (who has since died of leukaemia) state, only 2.3% of potential bone marrow donors in the U.K. are African/Caribbean and ethnic-matching is important. 1 in 5 bone marrow matches are found in white people, 1 in 250,000 in black people.

To date, according to its website, an initial donor recruitment campaign in Ghana resulted in 1020 donors.

The charity has also managed to raise funds to equip the haematology unit at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra with a devoted space for patients with leukaemia and with the equipment to diagnose and treat them.

I do wonder if Ghanaian, and more generally, sub-Saharan African bone marrow donors will be eligible to enter the global register. When I looked at the Anthony Nolan Trust bone marrow register criteria for donation, you had to be out of a malarial zone for six months (which counted me out but counts Nanda in).

I don’t understand the science of this at all, as although bone marrow type is established through a blood sample, I don’t see what this has got to do with malaria parasites. If malaria is truly a factor, then any African bone marrow register will have problems entering the global register - and most of the world’s population lives in malarial regions.

A 38 year-old brother of a colleague has recently died from undiagnosed but suspected leukaemia. Three transfusions, as Kezia …We have a system here to evacuate any “urgent” case to the ex-colonial European power. But the “system” cannot deal with an emergency, it has to be considered by a committee. So our doctors told us to just get out as fast as possible … and because of my privilege, we were able to get Kezia out.

1 comment:

Think said...

A slight correction needs to be made to this narrative:- Whereas DWIB was founded by Danny White and Ivor Burford, Ivor is not an expatriate Ghanian but British born to Jamaican parents. Also, Ivor is very much alive; it is Danny unfortunately, who had passed and is no longer with us.

I hope this helps to ensure the accuracy of your excellent article.