The SA Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR) will be able to substantially increase their efforts aimed at recruiting blood stem cell donors in South Africa, thanks to a partnership with Be The Match© – a leading NGO in bone marrow transplantation.

Jane Ward, Deputy Director for the SABMR is ecstatic about the partnership and says it will significantly improve donor recruitment and retention over the next two years.

“Be The Match© is the world’s largest and most diverse registry of blood stem cell donors. It is the hub of a global transplant network that connects 467 leading centres worldwide, including 153 transplant centres in the US and 34 international transplant centres. The organisation seeks to partner with likeminded registries by not only making funding available, but to improve the operational structure of registries in third world countries, which will strengthen our ability to help patients with life-threatening blood disorders,” explains Ward.

Be The Match© specifically chose the SABMR as its South African partner, as it is an internationally recognised registry and fully accredited by the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA). It is also the registry with the highest number of donors in South Africa and has been operating successfully for over 30 years.

Erica Jensen, Senior Vice President of Member Engagement, Enrolment and Experience at Be The Match© says it’s an honour and a privilege to be able to work with an organisation, such as the SABMR, that cares as deeply about saving lives as they do.

“All the centres in our network must meet our quality standards, which are put in place to make sure that donors and patients receive the highest quality care and the SAMBR ticks all the boxes.

“As the recognised leader in marrow transplantation, we continue to develop services and interactive technologies used by transplant experts around the world to reach more patients.  We also continue to lead the way in advancing services to speed the transplant process and improving treatments for post-transplant complications. By partnering with the SABMR it will help us to further cement our commitment to fighting for equal outcomes for all and ensure that more lives are saved,” remarks Jensen.

Ward says in practical terms, the partnership will help the SA Bone Marrow Registry to:

  1. gain access to global best practice through knowledge-sharing and benchmarking;
  2. improve internal systems that will lead to exponential growth in donor applications, especially among those of colour;
  3. access to other international registries for learning and development;
  4. speed up the process of matching donors with patients in need of transplants.


“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the socioeconomic environment in which we operate making fundraising very difficult. We’ve had to change tack and innovate along the way. Our team has worked tirelessly behind-the-scenes to make the collaboration with Be The Match© a reality and its sure to pay dividends. The partnership with Be The Match© will help us to turn the crisis into an opportunity. We are and have always been in the business of saving lives and will not let the pandemic slow us down,” says Ward defiantly.

Currently, the SABMR has about 74 000 donors on its database, which is roughly about 0,2% of SA’s population.

Ward says their aim is to increase this exponentially by the end of 2022. “The bigger the donor pool, the better the odds of finding a match.”

The Be The Match© partnership is focused on donor recruitment. This still leaves many other services, such as the Patient Assistance Programme, which helps pay for the bone marrow donor search if a patient is unable to do so, underfunded.

If you want to become a donor or would like to make a financial donation to the SA Bone Marrow Registry, please contact the SABMR on 021 447 8638 or email: visit

Follow the SABMR on Facebook, twitter and Instagram at @sabonemreg

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