Become a donor

Darren Combrink will walk six laps from Kloof Street to Camps Bay to raise funds for donor recruitment for the South African Bone Marrow Registry.

Darren Combrink will be walking six laps between two frozen-yoghurt shops more than 5km apart, this Saturday, to help a teenager beat cancer and to get people to become life-saving bone-marrow donors.

The Long Street resident plans to cover a total of 32.4km, walking back and forth between the Myog branches in Kloof Street and Camps Bay.

He’s doing it for Robbie Eddles, 17. The Durban teenager was just 5 when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Robbie hopes a bone-marrow transplant can save his life, but finding a match on the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR) isn’t easy. However, the more people who join it the better chance he and others with life-threatening blood disorders have.

Robbie’s aunt, Kerry Moller, had posted a plea to help her nephew on social media. It went viral and within a week, the SABMR donor applications shot up by 6 500.

Ms Moller has raised money to help with the processing of these applications. It costs the SABMR at least R2000 to have each applicant donor tested.

Mr Combrink latched onto the initiative to increase the registry in hopes that people who need bone marrow, including Robbie, will find matches through new donor applicants.

Mr Combrink, a digital media producer, is an avid walker.

He has completed seven Caminos over the years and last year walked 930km in Spain to raise funds for SAMBR.  

“I walked 825km with no rest and it went really well, so I am confident that I can do the laps on Saturday.”

Mr Combrink first got in touch with the SAMBR after his company did a video for the public benefit organisation.

He started an organisation, Walking for Life, at the beginning of last year, to support the SAMBR.

“I decided to do a local walk to show people that nothing stops the average person from making a difference. What I’m doing is a little drop in the ocean, but if we put all those drops together, we can do a lot more. I don’t have a lot of money, so I’m dedicating my time to give back.”

Mr Combrink has been preparing for the walk by keeping healthy and walking everywhere.

“I believe I can do the six laps, but Kloof Nek Road is a steep one – it won’t be a walk in the park.”

He launched a BackaBuddy campaign to help cover donor-recruitment costs.

The campaign went live on February 26 and has so far raised R68 000 with contributions from 364 donors.

“The aim is to raise R500 000 by the end of April – the campaign is going until then. I hope people can support us to help people like Robbie.”

Mr Combrink met Robbie and his family last year and describes Robbie as “brave, intelligent, funny kind and incredibly loving young man.”

Robbie said he wanted people to come forward to be donors.

“We are all each other’s tomorrow. Anyone can donate and should donate. If not for me, then do it for someone else. Because when all is taken into consideration, I am because we are. What’s harder than leukaemia? Seeing your loved ones experiencing it from the outside. And not being able to save you.”  

According to SABMR’s Kamiel Singh, there are currently only 73 000 donors registered on the site to cater for over 57 million South Africans.

“Every year, hundreds of South Africans with blood disease such as leukaemia reach the point where their only chance of survival is a bone marrow transplant. For about 30% of patients, a matched donor can be found in their own family; for the other 70%, their only hope is to find a matched unrelated donor identified by our database.”

Mr Singh said there was a need for donors of African descent.

The public can support Mr Combrink by walking a lap or two with him on Saturday.

The first lap will start at 8am from Myog Kloof Street, as 5% of their turnover on the day will go to the SABMR  .

Anyone who walks with Mr Combrink will receive a voucher for 25% off any meals at Myog.

Each lap is 5.4km and the public is warned that there are many dangerous crossings on Kloof Nek Road as well as places that require single-file walking.

SABMR will also be setting up tables outside the Kloof Street Lifestyle Centre, where people can sign up or find out more information about becoming a donor.

Anyone between the ages of  18 and 25 could be a donor.

Visit www.backabuddy.co.za to find out more about the Myog to Myog Challenge or to donate to the cause.