Robbie Eddles - A brave young lad fighting for his chance at life

Robbie Eddles - A brave young lad fighting for his chance at life

Robbie was first diagnosed with Leukaemia at the age of five and has fought bravely for so long. Through his courage and strength he can do it again, however, he urgently needs to find a Bone Marrow match.

Robbie Eddles / Supplied
Robbie Eddles / Supplied

Listen to the podcast or read the details below: 

The aim of this week's Big Favour is to spread the word far and wide that anyone between 18 and 45 can join the South African Bone Marrow registry.

Alice Leah sent in an email telling me about 17-year-old Robbie, who has just relapsed with Leukaemia for a third time.

Robbie is like any other teenager. He likes spending time with his peers, swimming, reading, and playing with his dog, Izzy. When he was first diagnosed, Robbie spent months undergoing intensive chemotherapy and eventually went into remission.

However, in 2014, the family received devastating news - Robbie had relapsed and the Leukaemia returned. Despite him responding well to treatment, the Labrador-lover desperately needs a Bone Marrow Transplant.

robbie eddles

The family have turned to the South African Bone Marrow Registry to find a match for Robbie. Neither of his family members are compatible for the Bone Marrow Transplant. But it’s not just Robbie looking for a match. There are so many people waiting for donor's and any of us could be a match for someone.

No blood needs to be given! A swab test will be sent to you and collected free of charge and you may well be able to save a life. There are only 77,000 people on the SA Registry in a country of 57-million people. I urge you to become a donor today!

Let’s spread awareness of the plight of those suffering with diseases like Leukaemia, who are in desperate need of bone marrow transplants. 

Right now, we need as many people signed up for the bone marrow registry as possible to give Robbie (and people just like him) a better chance of finding his 1 in 100,000 match! 

damon beard the group of people pic
Supplied, Damon Beard

Donating stem cells that could be a match for a bone marrow transplant is a big decision and can be very rewarding, as your donation could save someone’s life.

To become a donor, visit and click on "Join the Registry" and then “Become a Donor".

Here are some quick facts you need to know when you become a donor:

1. How do I know if I qualify to be considered as a donor?

If you are between the ages of 18 and 45 and have no pre-existing health conditions, you are very likely to be considered as a donor.

2. How do I register my intention of becoming a donor 

As there are further qualifying medical criteria you will need to register as a potential donor on the SABMR website, They will then send you forms to fill out and return online to establish if you meet the health criteria to become a donor. This is to ensure that there is no risk to the donor's health in any way.

3. What happens next?

If you meet the donor requirements, the SABMR will send a swab kit. This kit will contain the instructions of the very simple procedure to take swabs from the inside of your mouth. No needles, no pain, and very easy! These swabs are placed in a tube and sent back to the SABMR laboratory to be analysed so that your tissue type can be identified.

4. What happens to the result?

Your results are placed on the South African Bone Marrow registry, as well as an international database.

5. Am I likely to be chosen as a Stem cell donor?

The chances of being a stem cell match for someone in need is 1 in 100,000, so you will very likely never be called on to donate your stem cells. However, you could be one of the lucky ones that can help save someone’s life and “be their tomorrow”.

6. Can I join the register because there is someone specific that I want to help?

Often people sign up to be a potential donor because there is someone specific that they want to help like Robbie. However, it is important to realise that if you register on the SABMR website that you are able to help whoever you are a match for. With so many patients requiring these stem cells, it's wonderful to give them all a chance of being a life-saving match.

7. If I have been identified as a match how do I go about donating stem cells?

Firstly, you will undergo a full medical examination to see if you are still fit to donate. A growth factor hormone (G-CSF) is then injected daily for five days prior to harvesting your stem cells. This temporarily boosts granulocyte production and encourages the movement of the stem cells from your bone marrow where the cells are made, out into your blood. There is no pain associated with this except for the small prick of the needle.

8. How are the stem cells donated?

You will be admitted to hospital to have your stem cells donated. The process is very simple as blood is drawn from one arm, and filtered through a cell separator machine and the platelets are collected from your blood and placed in a bag. The rest of your blood is returned to you via the other arm.

9. How long does this take and does it cost me anything? 

The whole process usually takes four to six hours and it might need to be done on two consecutive days. There is absolutely no cost at all and the SABMR will cover any costs that you have incurred to be a donor.

10. Can I change my mind?

You are free to change your mind at any moment, up to the moment you are asked to donate. Most donors are delighted to hear that they have been chosen to donate – after all, that’s why they joined the Registry.

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