More than 11,000 remarkable people in Leicester are willing to save the life of a stranger by donating their bone marrow to someone with blood cancer. But the charity Anthony Nolan estimates there could be up to 70,000 more eligible donors living in the area who are yet to sign up to the register.2
The news comes as two Leicester universities join forces with local campaigner Rik Basra as part of an inspiring local partnership to get more young people and those from ethnic minority groups to join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow, or blood stem cell, register.
The Rik Basra Leukaemia Campaign already works closely with De Montfort University’s Mile2 Team to sign local students up to the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register. Now, Leicester Marrow (a student volunteering group at the University of Leicester) has come on board and together the groups are calling on local students and young people to join the register, simply by giving a saliva sample.
A range of events will take place across the city over the coming months, where young people can sign up and ‘Be a One Spit Wonder’, kicking off with The University of Leicester Students’ Union on 28 November.
Rik Basra said: “When I was diagnosed with leukaemia four years ago, I never envisaged that we would have a Leicester partnership reaching across the whole city and telling people about the importance of bone marrow donation. Someone who signed up to the bone marrow register saved my life and that is the most incredible thing in the world. If everyone in Leicester who is eligible took five minutes out of their day to join the bone marrow register, we could save so many more lives.”
The number of Leicestershire residents recruited to the bone marrow register has risen by nearly 600% in the last 18 months. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Ann O’Leary, Head of Register Development at Anthony Nolan, said: “For someone with blood cancer, a bone marrow transplant is usually their last chance at survival. To have a successful transplant, they need to find a donor whose tissue type matches theirs. That is why we need as many young people as possible to join the register so that we can find the most suitable donor for everyone in need of a potentially lifesaving bone marrow transplant.”
Mark Charlton, Mile2 Manager at De Montfort University, said: “Every new name added to the stem cell register could be a life-saver. By working together, I am confident that the students from both universities can create a legacy of hope for thousands of people fighting blood cancer."
Steph Brown, President of The University of Leicester’s Marrow Project, said: “Combining the experience gained from our individual successes in the past will undoubtedly strengthen our future work within Leicester and enhance our contributions towards the work of Anthony Nolan. We can't wait to get started!”
Joining the Anthony Nolan register involves filling in a form and providing a saliva sample and, for those called to donate, in 90% of cases the procedure is similar to giving blood.