Background and Mission

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Every year, hundreds of South African children and adults with blood diseases such as leukaemia and bone marrow failure, reach a stage where their only chance of survival is a bone marrow transplant from a healthy donor.In about 30% of cases, a fully matched donor can be found in the patient’s own family, most often a brother or sister.

For the other 70% of patients their only hope is to find a matched unrelated donor identified by the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR).

Now in its 25th year, the SABMR was founded by Professors Ernette du Toit and Peter Jacobs in 1991. It was accepted as a member of the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA) and designated an internationally recognised Registry.

The SABMR is the only registry in South Africa and the only registry in Africa supporting an active matched unrelated donor transplant programme.

The SABMR has over 73 000 donors on its database. Through its participation with Bone Marrow Donors worldwide, the SABMR has access to over 28 million donors worldwide.

The SABMR is governed by a dedicated board of specialist professionals from various fields. The SABMR is registered as non-profit company and a Section 18A Public Benefit Organisation.


Rebecca met her donor Zyta at the SABMR’s 21st Anniversary. To read the full story, click here


The SABMR exists to help save the lives of South African children and adults with life-threatening blood disorders. This is achieved by conducting highly specialised local and international searches to find suitably matched unrelated donors for critically ill patients.