Inamandla Nkwanyana is in need of a blood stem cell donor after she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia earlier this year.
- Twelve-year-old Inamandla Nkwanyana was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia earlier this year.
- She needs a blood stem cell donor, but there is no match for her in the global donor registry.
- His mother, Londiwe Nkwanyana, is asking for donors to help save her only son.life
Twelve-year-old Inamandla Nkwanyana’s life was turned upside down this year after she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a deadly blood cancer.
The sixth grader from KwaNongoma in KwaZulu-Natal now needs a blood stem cell donor as she currently does not have a match on the national donor registry.
Inamandla’s mother, Londiwe Nkwanyana, first realized her daughter was ill in January when she noticed her gums were bleeding heavily. She took her to a doctor who referred her to the hospital for tests and a blood transfusion.
Less than a week later, she was told that her only son was seriously ill.
“The doctors said they had a treatment plan called chemotherapy and they asked if I would consent to her having the treatment and I agreed,” Londiwe told News24.
After several months of treatment, she was told that her daughter needed a blood stem cell donor.
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“They tried to find someone through some of the foundations they work with, but they couldn’t find a match.”
Londiwe was also tested but it was not a match either.
Then they introduced him to DKMS Africa, an NPO dedicated to recruiting donors.
“We started by making a patient appeal on social media and organizing donation drives in the patient’s community, companies, universities, etc., spreading awareness and engaging the public to become a stem cell donor because anyone could be the couple that a patient is expecting,” said Nabiella de Beer, communications manager at DKMS Africa.
I just wait
De Beer said there was only a 1 in 100,000 chance that a patient would find a match, and “currently only 0.04% of South Africans are registered as donors, making the need for donors crucial.”
According to the NPO, Black, Colored, Indian and Asian blood cancer patients only have a 19% chance of finding a match due to ethnic underrepresentation in the global donor registry.
Stem cell transplants were currently the only way to treat blood cancer, De Beer said.
“Stem cells can become specialized cells in the body and can self-renew. This means they can replenish themselves over long periods of time by dividing.
These become infection-fighting white blood cells, platelets that help stop bleeding, and red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body.
“In cases like Inamandla’s, stem cell transplants are often the only hope for blood cancer patients to restore healthy blood stem cells and boost their immune systems.”
Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
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Inamandla’s illness had significantly affected her physical and mental health, her mother said.
She was discharged from the hospital in early September and during the course of chemotherapy had serious infections, including vomiting blood.
“Her skin turned a darker color, she lost hair and she lost her appetite,” said Londiwe, who was also traumatized by the ordeal.
The single mother has been raising her daughter alone since 2019 when Inamandla’s father died in a car accident.
“Right now it’s a challenge for her when she tries to play with other kids, they make fun of her. She said kids ask her if she puts nail polish on her head and stuff, even when she explains she’s sick.”
Inamandla, who was an A-team basketball player and a promising student, has not been able to attend school this year.
How can you help
Stem cell donation does not require surgery or invasive procedures on the part of the donor.
“The initial test is done with a cheek swab and the donation is very similar to a blood donation. Although it takes longer than a normal blood donation, it is still more commonly done as an outpatient procedure and the donor can return to home the same day.” donation,” De Beer said.
Donor registration can be done on the DKMS Africa website.