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Matches on the Map

Funds Raised:
R 17 828
Fundraising Target:
R 150 000
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Meet Robin Lewis and his wife Jolandie from Mpumalanga.  

The couple will embark on a 10-year, 64 country journey spanning three continents to spread global awareness around the importance of stem cell donation in their one-of-a-kind custom-built motor home affectionally known as Betsy, come August. The vehicle is an old fire truck that has been converted to run on “used” cooking oil to be more sustainable and save on diesel costs. 

The husband-and-wife duo were inspired to take on this project following a successful stem cell transplant after Robin was diagnosed with Fanconi Anemia – a genetic DNA repair disorder that may lead to bone marrow failure, leukaemia and or solid cancerous tumours. 

The chance of finding a matching donor is like a needle in a haystack given the number of donors registered world-wide, but thankfully Robin went on to have a haploidentical (partially matched) transplant. This was the only matched donor available for Robin in the world. After Robin’s transplant five years ago, the couple started planning the trip with the hope of helping other patients who find themselves in a similar situation – and that’s how Matches on the Map was born.

Their objective is to sign up thousands of donors in partnership with the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR), as they journey through each continent, starting in Africa.  The SABMR will be assisting the couple with stem cell donor kits as well as import and export logistics.  The aim is to add diversity not only the SABMR but registry databases in countries they will be travelling to with the goal of finding matches for patients en route

As Fanconi Anemia almost claimed Robin’s life, the pair decided that they would also focus on establishing support groups for patients with this disease as they make their way through the various countries, meeting up with families that are affected and sharing their stories. 

The couple is aiming to raise at least R150 000 in collaboration with the SABMR, that will go towards ongoing operational costs on the road and to raise additional funds for the Registry’s donor recruitment efforts as stem cell kits and the processing thereof is quite expensive. 

“We want to appeal to corporates and the public to come on board and help us fulfil this dream of making a meaningful change in the lives of patients who require a stem cell transplant. The likelihood of people from certain ethnic backgrounds finding a successful match is a mere 37% compared to patients from European descent whose chances are 72%. As a survivor myself, I know what a harrowing experience it is to have to wait for a donor match when you’re running out of time.” 

 

Matches on the Map will allow access to a broad and much more diverse spectrum of donors.  Ethnicity plays a huge role in finding donor matches, especially for patients of colour. Currently, only 35% of the SABMR donor base is of colour, which is not reflective of the demographic make-up of South Africa. This limits the ability to find matches for patients who are of African or Indian descent. 

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Donations

  • Feb 27, 2024 - R 200.00 Fees covered
  • "" - Anonymous

  • Jan 11, 2024 - R 1 020.00 Fees covered
  • "These braves ones are such an inspiration. We pray for exceptional blessings on your journey." - Anonymous

  • Jan 03, 2024 - R 500.00 Fees covered
  • "Mooi ry!" - Vansafrica

  • Oct 24, 2023 - USD $ 540.25 Fees covered
  • "" - Anonymous

  • Sep 24, 2023 - R 3 000.00 Fees covered
  • "I love you guys, keep doing what you are doing ❤️" - Anonymous

  • Sep 14, 2023 - R 200.00 Fees covered
  • "" - Anonymous

  • Sep 06, 2023 - R 200.00 Fees covered
  • "" - Luke

  • Aug 01, 2023 - USD $ 30.23 Fees covered
  • "" - Anonymous

  • Aug 01, 2023 - R 200.00
  • "Dankie vir wat julle doen 🙏🏻" - Modine

  • Jul 30, 2023 - R 500.00 Fees covered
  • "Good luck on your journey." - Anonymous

  • Jul 30, 2023 - R 200.00
  • "Hope you find your donor and get well soon" - Katy

  • Jul 27, 2023 - R 200.00 Fees covered
  • "" - Jolanda

  • Jun 29, 2023 - USD $ 108.05 Fees covered
  • "It's going to be one fantastic adventure for you both and the Matches will be equally fantastic!" - Charlie Scott

  • Jun 27, 2023 - R 200.00 Fees covered
  • "Wishing you all the best on your amazing journey!" - Anonymous

  • Jun 24, 2023 - R 200.00 Fees covered
  • "You are such an inspiration. My son had his transplant in February we were blessed that his brother was a 100% match" - Nicky Von Eckenbrecher

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Statistics

Fundraising target

R 150 000.00

Donations to date

R 17 828.13
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The South African Bone Marrow Registry

The South African Bone Marrow Registry Logo

The South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR) exists to help find matching bone marrow donors for critically ill South African children and adults who need a transplant but do not have a match within their own family. The only one of its kind in South Africa, the SABMR is committed to helping every patient referred to it. If there is no matching donor in South Africa, we take our search worldwide - “We search the world to find your perfect match”.