International skateboard gold medalist joins SABMR – Germiston City News
South African-born skateboarder and stem cell donor Jean-Marc Johannes will actively encourage young people this month to join the SA Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR) in its continued fight to save lives.
Young people between the ages of 16 and 25 make up just 6.8% of donors enrolled in SABMR, which Nadia Chalkley, SABMR’s donor recruiting manager, says should be 13%.
“With many SABMR donors approaching 60 who are no longer eligible for a donation, we need the younger generation to fill their shoes. “
She said possible reasons for young people ‘reluctance to register could be fear of being called upon to donate, especially if they are unaware of what that entails.
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“So many myths continue to hamper our efforts. Although we call the procedure a bone marrow transplant, it is not the bone marrow that is needed, but the stem cells that are taken out of the bloodstream rather than the marrow itself.
“Donating stem cells is neither difficult nor painful. It is very similar to donating blood platelets. The only difference is that donors are advised to give an injection a few days before the donation, which helps stimulate the bone marrow to produce more hematopoietic stem cells.
“The blood is then taken from one arm, which goes through a machine that removes the stem cells, then returns the blood to the other arm. The whole process takes around three to four hours and can be done at a nearby hospital or blood donor clinic.
“There is also no problem to register. Everything can be done online in a matter of minutes and a swab kit will then be sent to the donor’s home. All that is needed is to wipe a cotton swab on the inside of your cheek, seal it, and notify the registry that it is ready for collection.
She said young people are preferred donors because they are associated with better survival rates for patients after stem cell transplants.
“We aim to recruit at least 10,000 more young people before the end of the year.
“Johannes signing on as SABMR Youth Ambassador is sure to raise awareness among young people and will help the registry dispel the myths that abound.
“He is excited about the cause and we hope his passion will become contagious. We know it will be a powerful motivator for young people to get involved and make a difference.
Just back from the famous Dew Tour in the United States, Johannes will begin his role as Youth Ambassador this month.
He will participate in outreach activities throughout the year, which includes school and campus activations to rally the growing skateboarding community and the youth behind the cause.
Johannes, a quadruple world record holder, who broke seven Guinness World Records, is SA’s top skateboarder and hopes to compete in the Olympics in July.
He was also inducted into the World Records Academy for breaking a 13-year streak of pro skateboarder Rob Dyrdek.
He said the partnership with SABMR is a natural fit.
“This cause is close to my heart because I have had to face the challenges of asthma since I was a child. Due to the severity of my asthma, the doctors advised me not to play any sport.
“However, my passion for athletics and the fulfillment of my dreams put me on the road to recovery and helped me better manage the disease. My grandmother, who died of cancer, was my beacon of motivation and always told me that anything was possible, and I believed her.
“I hope that through my efforts more young people will help fulfill the dreams of other people who deserve a second chance in life by simply donating stem cells,” he said.
In October, SABMR became the second country in the world after the UK to allow 16 and 17 year olds to become stem cell donors.
Previously, adolescents had to wait until the age of 18 to register.
Chalkley said that in addition to being an Ambassador for SABMR, Johannes has started a volunteer campaign called # 50Squad aimed at young people aged 16 to 35 to become Youth Ambassadors to help raise awareness and recruit peers. of various ethnicities in their respective communities. .
If you would like to register for the # 50Squad program, visit www.sabmr.co.za/become-a-volunteer/
The SABMR can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @sabonemreg
Contact the editorial staff by e-mail: Marietta Lombard (editor) [email protected], or (journalists) Busi Vilakazi [email protected]