Cape Town hosts yet another convention, this time the International Donor Registry Conference

International Donor Registry Conference to start in Cape Town. Picture by roberto carrafa/pexels

International Donor Registry Conference to start in Cape Town. Picture by roberto carrafa/pexels

Published Jun 25, 2024


Cape Town - Scientists, doctors, and experts in the field of stem cell research and donor registries from across the world will meet in Cape Town for the 14th International Donor Registry Conference, taking place this week.

The conference anticipates over 300 delegates to be in attendance at the Century City Conference Centre, for a second time in South Africa.

Hosted by non-profit organisation, the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR), the conference, themed “All Patients and Donors Matter”, will commence today until June 29, covering some of the latest developments and advancements.

In 2019, the SABMR submitted a bid to host the conference in 2022, however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this was not possible and is therefore taking place this year.

SABMR will be co-hosting the event with the World Marrow Donor Association, an organisation based in Leiden, Netherlands, which oversees registries to ensure that accreditation standards are met.

SABMR deputy director, Jane Ward, said one of the key components was to share ideas around how to diversify the registries in terms of donor populations and that the more diverse the registry, the more people can be assisted.

“You’re more likely to find a match within your own ethnic group.

“We know for a fact that there are more patients of Caucasian ethnicity on the registries than other ethnic minorities, such as coloured, black, and Asian.

“There’s only a 26% chance that they will find a match compared to Caucasians by 72%.

“So it highlights the fact that no matter where you are from, who you are, everybody deserves a second chance, this is what we want to promote at this conference and to diversify the recruitment of donors, so more donors can donate,” said Ward.

Some progress however has been made.

Ward said in 2012, the black population made up 5% of the registry in South Africa.

This has now increased to over 10-12%.

As a non-profit organisation, the SAMBR relies heavily on funding to recruit donors as well as for its Patient Assistance Programme, for those in need of a bone marrow transplant, but unable to afford the related costs.

Ward appealed to the public to support their efforts through donations or join the registry by visiting their website.

DKMS Africa head of department: Community Engagement and Communications, Palesa Mokomele, said: “This is vitally important as we are part of the global medical community. South Africa has incredible specialists working in the field of haematology. We have patients who have found matching stem cell donors in other countries and likewise, have also facilitated donations for patients elsewhere.

“We are part of a major global network and this conference only serves to recognise our placing in the world.”