A woman’s appeal for a stem cell donor for her fiancé has led to a 650% increase in people signing up to our register.
Mike Brandon, 29, from Bristol, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in March this year, and has been told his best hope of a cure is a stem cell transplant – but as his brothers are not a match, he has turned to us to find a stranger with matching tissue type who is willing to donate their stem cells.
Since the #Shake4Mike appeal began just 9 days ago, more than 7,000 people have joined the Anthony Nolan register online, compared to 939 during the same period last year (4-12 May).
Mike’s fiancé Kate Robertson, the woman behind the appeal, has described the news as ‘absolutely overwhelming’.
Kate said: ‘The response has been absolutely overwhelming and the fact that this has resulted such a huge increase in successful sign-ups is an incredible testament to the success of the campaign.
‘We set out with a goal of increasing awareness and getting as many people on the Anthony Nolan register as possible, not just for Mike but for others in his situation now and in the future. To know that we have reached this many people and potentially helped save the life of people who are in the same situation as Mike is just incredible.’
The #Shake4Mike campaign urges members of the public to join the Anthony Nolan register and post a shaky-face selfie as a symbol of their support, before nominating others to do the same.
Celebrities including Coldplay, Stephen Fry, Gary Lineker and Stevie Johnson from Made in Chelsea have tweeted their support for #Shake4Mike, and some have even shared their own shaky-faces, including Sally from Coronation Street, Homeland’s David Harewood, and The One Show’s Joe Crowley and Lucy Siegle. Even popular social media artist Jim’ll Paint It has supported the appeal by creating a shakyface picture of the Queen.
The appeal has brought some comfort to the family at this stressful time.
Kate said: ‘This is an incredibly difficult time for everyone involved. Knowing that there is so much support out there and to be able to visibly seeing the results of what we are trying to achieve has lifted everyone's spirits.
Both Mike and I have loved reading through the posts and messages that have been coming through. Some of the shaky faces really make us laugh out loud which is wonderful.’
We also saw a 400% increase in visits to its website between 4-12 May; of more than 60,000 visits, nearly 85% were new to the site.
Ann O'Leary, our Head of Register Development, has praised the couple’s incredible efforts. Ann said: 'The impact of Shake4Mike has been unprecedented, leading to a surge of over 7,000 people signing up online to our register of potential lifesavers in just over one week.
We normally get around 70-100 online sign ups a day, so it could take over two months to reach the same amount. It's inspiring what a difference one group of friends and relatives can make on the lives of so many.
'The concept of taking a shaky-face selfie and nominating a friend to join the register has really taken off as it is not only personal to Mike, but it's an interactive and positive way of showing your support. It's rare to be given such a simple opportunity to potentially save a life.’
The couple’s hometown of Bristol has seen a particularly huge surge in potential donors. Our website also saw 4,120 visitors from Bristol (compared to 165 last year) - an increase of nearly 2,400%.
Kate said: “The result generated from the Bristol public has blown us all away. We have always loved living in Bristol and the vibe it brings. To have this incredible local support has generated a true feeling of community spirit around us. A 2,400% increase is simply astounding! We can't thank the public enough for being so supportive and getting behind this campaign.’
We're still urgently appealing for people aged 16-30 to join the register. Only around one in 1,000 people on the register go onto donate, as there are so many different tissue types out there, so the more people who sign up, the more chances it gives someone with blood cancer of finding a cure.
Visit www.anthonynolan.org/shake4mike to find out how you can join in with #Shake4mike.