Life can be scary,
but lifesaving definitely isn’t.
For someone with blood cancer, an amazing stranger donating their stem cells could be their best chance of survival. And if you sign up to the Anthony Nolan stem cell register and one day come up as a genetic match, you could be that amazing stranger.
There are lots of myths about donating stem cells, but never fear, we’re here with the facts.
If you ever come up as a match for a patient, we’ll be in touch! We’ll give you all the information you need, be on hand for any questions and we’ll never leave you hanging for a reply.
We’ll organise the whole thing – including dates that suit you, and arranging and paying for your travel and accommodation. Our super organised team have got it covered.
There are two ways you might be asked to donate:
- 90% of people donate via their bloodstream - you’ll receive a course of injections for a few days before, and then go into hospital for the afternoon where stem cells are collected from your bloodstream over 4-5 hours while you put your feet up, plug in your phone and binge on the latest boxset.
- 10% of people donate through their bone marrow under a general anaesthetic, as this is sometimes better for the patient. You’ll stay in hospital for a couple of nights - donors say they feel a bit tired and achy afterwards, but rest and relaxation will help.
What do real donors say?
'Amazing!’ ‘So lucky.’ ‘A bit nerve-wracking.’ Donors have a lot of words to describe donating stem cells, but scary isn’t one of them...
'I expected it to be more painful.
'There's a few aches and pains here and there, but everyone informed me that's kind of normal.
'Yeah, it feels fine, no pain at all.'
- Jamie, pictured donating his stem cells below.
Watch our donation animation
This animation takes you through a lifesaving journey - from getting the call if you come up as a genetic match for someone in need of a transplant, to the step by step process of donating your stem cells through your bloodstream or bone marrow.
Why do you have to be aged between 16 and 30 to join the register?
Statistics show that young people are more likely to be chosen as donors in lifesaving transplants, and our research has shown that younger donors lead to better survival rates in patients.
Of course, people over 30 can make excellent donors too, and that’s why we ask people to stay on our register until they’re 61.
In addition, it costs £40 to add each donor to our register. As a charity with limited resources, we need to focus on recruiting the people most likely to be chosen as donors.
Why do you need more young men to join the register?
We’re grateful to have both men and women aged 16-30 on our register.
However, young men aged 16-30 provide over 55% of donations, but they make up only 16% of the register.
Why do you have to be willing to donate your stem cells in two different ways?
Nearly 90% of people give their stem cells through peripheral blood stem cell collection. This is a simple process, similar to donating blood.
However, in some situations and for some conditions, a patient will need stem cells from bone marrow. If that’s the case, we’ll ask you to donate bone marrow from your pelvis, which a doctor will take using a needle and syringe under general anaesthetic.
Do you need to join the Anthony Nolan register if you've already joined another stem cell register?
No. You only need to be on one register as every time a patient needs a transplant, their hospital will contact Anthony Nolan and we will search all the potential donors in the UK and around the world to find a match.
If you're not eligible to join the register, don't worry - there're plenty of other amazing ways you can support our work and help save lives.
You could run a marathon, go skydiving, volunteer with us, or even lobby your local MP on behalf of people with blood cancer and blood disorders in desperate need. Take a look here for more details.