Dr James Robinson​ Head of Bioinformatics

Facts and Stats

Useful information on Anthony Nolan, the stem cell donor register and blood cancer.

Below are some key facts and statistics that you might find useful.

For more information, contact us on press@anthonynolan.org or 0207 424 1300.

What we do

Anthony Nolan is a pioneering charity that unites people and science to unlock the cures, treatments and transplants that will transform the future for those with blood cancer and blood disorders. Every day, we use our register to match remarkable individuals willing to donate their bone marrow or blood stem cells to people who desperately need lifesaving transplants.

Key facts

  • Since its inception Anthony Nolan has facilitated over 26,500 transplants for people around the world. 
  • Around 90% of donors donate through PBSC (peripheral blood stem cell collection). This is a simple, outpatient procedure. Donors are supported throughout the process by the Anthony Nolan team.  
  • Currently 16% of the UK Anthony Nolan stem cell register is made up of young men, but they account for more than half of people called upon to donate.
  • There is a pressing need to recruit more people from diverse backgrounds to the Anthony Nolan register, to help more patients from minority ethnic backgrounds find the lifesaving matches they need. 
  • Blood cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK and the third biggest cancer killer. It accounts for 9% of all new cases of cancer diagnosed in the UK. 
  • To join the Anthony Nolan register, you must be 16-30 and healthy. Anthony Nolan’s world-leading Research Institute has shown younger donors offer better survival rates for patients. 

About blood cancer

  • There are three main types of blood cancer – leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. 
  • Blood cancers are life-threatening partly because they stop a person’s immune system working properly. 
  • When someone’s immune system is badly damaged, they can die from an infection their body could normally fight off. 

Treating blood cancer

  • All blood cells originate in bone marrow from the same type of cell, called a blood stem cell. 
  • A blood stem cell (or bone marrow) transplant can replace a damaged immune system in a person with blood cancer – but only if the donor’s tissue type matches. 
  • For many people with blood cancer, a transplant is their last chance of life. 
  • A transplant works by taking blood stem cells from a healthy donor and giving them to someone with blood cancer or a blood disorder. 
  • The donor and the recipient must have the same tissue type. As there are millions of different combinations, finding a suitable match is very complicated. 

About Anthony Nolan

  • Anthony Nolan was born in 1971 with a rare blood disorder called Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome. The only cure was a bone marrow transplant. None of Anthony’s family was a match and back then there was no system to find an unrelated donor. 
  • In 1974, Anthony Nolan’s mother, Shirley, set up the world’s first bone marrow register to match donors with people who desperately need a transplant. Since then, we’ve made more than 21,000 transplants happen.
  • Sadly, our register couldn’t help Anthony Nolan, who died a few months before his 8th birthday in October 1979. 
  • We carry out world-class research into stem cell matching and transplants to improve outcomes for all patients. 
  • In 2008, we set up our state-of-the-art Cell Therapy Centre for banking umbilical cord blood and conducting groundbreaking research
  • We are a UK charity with international reach. We work with hospitals and donor registries around the world to find matching donors for patients, wherever they are.

More information

You can also find more related information on our annual reviews.

To speak to one of our experts, email press@anthonynolan.org or call 0207 424 1300 (out of hours call 07881 265 285).