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Young cancer survivor tells how blood donations saved his life
With the SANBS’ drone which will help to take blood to difficult to reach areas, are back from left, Babalwa Mtana, Maryke Harris and Andiswa Dambuza (all from SANBS). In front are cancer survivor, Tian Diedericks, (12) and his mom, Tania Diedericks. Photo:Razaan Plaatjies

BLOOD donations played a vital role in saving the life of young cancer survivor, Tian Diedericks, a Grade 6 learner at Altona Primary School.

Tian (12), who aspires to be a doctor in the future, was diagnosed with osteoma, a bone tumour, which in his case, was found on his jaw in December 2017.

Last week, he bravely told a group of guests at the annual SANBS media breakfast in Port Elizabeth about his journey, after the shock diagnosis and the big role that receiving donated blood played in his recovery.

Tian was diagnosed shortly after losing his older sister, Ruzane Cowley, who was just 22 years old at the time, to a rare cancer affecting her liver. She received a liver transplant but lost the fight against cancer.

“Losing my hair was the worst part of having cancer. There were many different emotions in my head.

“I prayed to the Lord to give me the strength to overcome cancer and I did overcome it,” Tian said.

Tian had surgery in April last year to remove the tumour and to have a jaw replacement. Bone from his leg was transplanted into his jaw.

After his surgery he was determined to recover as quickly as possible. Doctors told him that he would probably have to stay in hospital for quite some time because he would not be able to walk, talk or eat.

“I prayed to God to be discharged from hospital and four days after the surgery I was walking, talking and eating. I was able to go home much earlier than expected. All the honour goes to the medical staff, unknown donors and God,” Tian said.

He said the treatment had many negative effects which resulted in him feeling exhausted after each chemotherapy session.

Receiving platelets and blood transfusions, however, increased his energy levels.

Tian has been in remission since September last year.

Despite attending school for only two months last year, he remained dedicated to his schoolwork and came third in his grade after completing his final Grade 5 exams.

He has also been selected as the deputy head boy for next year.

Lead consultant for translational research at SANBS, Dr Karin van den Berg, said, blood donation is crucial not only for red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, but for plasma as well. “The SANBS is currently in need of large quantities of plasma from blood donors in order to treat people with illnesses such as Haemophilia A,” she said.

She said the donation of plasma is similar to blood donation and takes about 40 minutes. During the donation the plasma is separated by centrifuging the blood. The red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets are separated from the plasma and returned to the donor’s body.

Plasma can be donated by anyone above the age of 16 and weighing over 55kg. This can be done every two weeks.

The SANBS has planned various blood drives over the festive season, leading up to January 2020 with extended hours and additional weekend blood drives to ensure a stable supply of blood during this period.

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