“Almost from the start, I had this feeling that something was not right with Zivi” says Nello Nkatu, Zivi’s mom. Shortly after Zivi was born, noticed that there were things about Zivi that were different from his other two siblings. He was not breastfeeding well and struggled with the bottle. At two months she got a huge shock when he started bleeding from his mouth. “We rushed him to the hospital and began the long journey to finding out what was wrong with Zivi”. “When we found out he had Leukaemia, we were in shock” says Nello. “We knew nothing about the disease and I did a lot of research to educate myself. After several rounds of chemotherapy and weeks in and out of hospital, it became clear that Zivi’s only hope of a cure would be a bone marrow transplant. My other two children were tested but were not matches. The SABMR was contacted immediately to help us find an un-related donor for him”. The SABMR responded without delay and began the complex procedure of finding a perfect match for Zivi.
“The odds of finding a matching donor is just 1 in 100,000 and chances of finding a match are greatest if the patient and donor are from the same ethnic group” says Professor du Toit, who founded the SABMR 23 years ago. “Since there are less than 4,000 Black South African donors on the SABMR, we knew that it was unlikely to find a matching donor for Zivile locally and that we would need to take our search worldwide. After weeks of working with 67 other international bone marrow registries, we found a donor for Zivile in theUSA”. Zivile was transplanted and is doing wonderfully. The SABMR staff recently visited the Nkatu family who are thrilled to have him back home!