We know you probably have lots of questions, which is great! We've answered some of them here, but do get in touch if there's anything you want to ask us on 0303 303 0303.
How do I join the stem cell register?
It’s easy to join our register, but the difference it can make is life changing.
- First of all, check our list of criteria to make sure you’re eligible to join.
- Then you can fill out the online application form – this takes between 5-10 minutes.
- You’ll need to answer a few questions about your medical history, your height and your weight.
- We’ll also ask for your contact details, and contact details of a relative or close friend. That’s so we can always get in touch if you come up as a match.
- We’ll pop a swab pack in the post. You need to do a cheeky swab and post it back to us for free. Watch how it's done. Easy!
- We’ll test your sample and add you to the Anthony Nolan register. Every time someone needs a transplant, we’ll check to see if you, and the other incredible individuals on our register, are a match.
This is the start of your lifesaving journey. If you ever come up as a potential match, we will get in touch with you.
How long do I stay on the register?
You stay on the register until you're 60. We know a lot can change in this time, so make sure you keep your details up to date, which you can do easily online, to make sure we can always get in touch.
One day, it could be your name flashing across our computer screens as a possible match for someone in desperate need of a transplant. Exciting, eh? If that happens, we’ll get in touch and ask you to provide blood samples in order to confirm the match. This could happen anytime up until you’re 61 (when we take you off the register), so remember to keep your details up to date online. And if you are a match? You could be about to save a life.
How do I donate?
You can donate your stem cells in two ways.
- Nearly 90% of people donate their stem cells through the bloodstream in a straightforward process called peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) collection.
- The other 10% donate through bone marrow under general anaesthetic, where they give cells from the bone marrow in their pelvis.
If you’re on the register, you must be happy to donate stem cells in either way. Want to know more? Then watch our helpful animation.
Where will I donate?
At a specialist collection centre, usually in London or Sheffield. We’ll organise and pay for your travel and hotel, so don’t worry about costs. We recommend you bring a companion with you to keep you company. We will make the necessary arrangements for them as well.
How does peripheral blood stem cell collection (PBSC) work?
A nurse will come to your home or office to give you injections of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) over four days. This is a naturally-occurring hormone which increases the number of stem cells your body produces. On the fourth day we’ll ask you to travel to the collection centre for your injection. The PBSC donation will start the next day. You’ll then come to the collection centre, where a nurse will insert a tiny tube in your arm, draw out the blood, and pass it through a machine to collect the stem cells. After which, your blood is returned to you. Yep, it’s that simple. Donating only takes about 4-5 hours. Occasionally we’ll need to collect more cells the following day. You won’t need a general anaesthetic or to stay in hospital overnight, though. You might experience flu-like symptoms and aching, but they’re usually mild and only last just a couple of days.
How does bone marrow donation work?
You’ll spend two nights in a London hospital, where you’ll have a general anaesthetic and doctors will take some bone marrow from your pelvis using a needle and syringe. You’ll probably feel tired and have a little bruising and pain in your lower back after donation. But this generally passes within a week or so.
If I donate, how long will it take my body to replace the stem cells?
If you donate via bone marrow, your body will begin to replace the cells immediately, with levels going back to normal after an average of 21 days. If you donate blood stem cells, your body is stimulated to produce extra stem cells, so your own levels won’t suffer.
What happens to my stem cells?
A courier will collect your cells and deliver them to the hospital where the recipient is waiting. They’ll usually give your stem cells to the recipient the same day or the day after you donate. If the recipient’s body accepts them, the stem cells will start making healthy blood cells. You’ve given that person the chance to live – all while you were lying in bed. Not bad, eh?
Can I find out what’s happened to the person who received my cells?
We may be able to give you updates on their progress. You may communicate anonymously through Anthony Nolan. After a two-year confidentiality period, if you both want to, you can get in direct contact with your recipient. This may depend on each transplant centre and national regulations. Find out more information here.
I’m already an organ donor. Does that mean I’m automatically on the Anthony Nolan register?
No, it doesn’t. You need to apply to join the Anthony Nolan register separately.
I’m already on the British Bone Marrow Registry or I’ve signed up with DKMS. Do I need to join the Anthony Nolan register too?
No. You only need to be on one register as every time a patient needs a transplant, their hospital will contact Anthony Nolan to search all the potential donors in the UK and around the world to find a match.