While passing through the shops in Durban one day, Mfundo Ngwenya, was prompted to sign up to the SABMR at a donor drive – never thinking that he’d ever end up being someone’s match.
Eleven years later, this spur-of-the-moment decision, rang true.
The 30-year-old gym technician and rugby coach says it was a no-brainer to sign up as a bone marrow stem cell donor as he was already a registered organ donor. “While others think twice about it, organ and stem cell donation has just always made sense to me,” he says.
Ngwenya got that all-important call from the SABMR in May 2021, and once a series of tests confirmed he was a 100% match, he jumped at the opportunity to donate.
Even though the initial date for the donation had to be postponed due to the patient suffering a setback and Ngwenya having had to recover from a sporting injury, the happy day finally arrived at the end of last year.
As a result of the five-day course of Neuprogen injections to boost his stem cells, he was unable to train, but he recognised it as a small sacrifice given what the patient was going through.
Ngwenya has always been the helpful kind. “It is in my nature to extend a helping hand wherever I go – whether through sport or uplifting communities. To make a difference in someone else’s life, is just the best feeling in the world.”
He puts down the shortage of black bone marrow stem cell donors to misinformation.
“When I signed up as an organ donor and then again as a bone marrow stem cell donor, I sat my family down on each occasion to explain why I made the decision and what it entailed to allay any fears they had. It all boils down to education and awareness.
“Thankfully, the younger generation is more open to organ/bone marrow stem cell donation than our elders, and yet a simple conversation to help them understand can go a long way in changing perceptions.”
Should he be called upon again, he would donate in a heartbeat, he says.
“The gift of life is priceless and if I can give someone another shot at living, it’s only a privilege.”