In the last two years, student donors who signed up at university via our Marrow student groups have given 227 strangers in desperate need of a transplant the chance of life, by donating their stem cells.
This represents an incredible 27% of the 841 unrelated stem cell donations that have occurred in UK since 2013, proving that universities are playing a major role in saving the lives of people with blood cancer and blood disorders.
This news comes as students arrive at universities during September, which is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Our network of student volunteer groups, collectively known as Marrow, will be recruiting the next generation of lifesavers onto the donor register at Freshers’ Fairs across the country.
Charlotte Connolly, Marrow Programme Lead at Anthony Nolan, says, ‘There is a silent lifesaving revolution unfolding at universities across the UK, thanks to our Marrow volunteers. These selfless students are truly having a lifesaving impact, as the amazing statistics show – it’s incredible that they are responsible for a quarter of the lives we save as a charity. The hours they spend on their tireless campaigning– on top of all their studies - mean that as a charity we can give more blood cancer sufferers a second chance at life.
‘As young people are most likely to be chosen to donate, this Freshers’ Week, it’s vital that Marrow continues to share how easy it is to sign up and donate your stem cells for people in desperate need of a transplant.’
Aberdeen Marrow Group
Around 2,000 people in the UK need a bone marrow transplant each year. This is usually their last chance of survival and we use our register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer patients. Young people are most likely to be chosen to donate and have better outcomes for the patient, as they are less likely to have long-term health problems which might delay or prevent donation.
Since its formation in 1997, more than 50 universities have set up their own Marrow society. Collectively, Marrow has recruited over 85,000 potential donors and 786 of these people have gone on to donate. Typically, around 1 in 1200 people on the register go on to donate, so Marrow donors are up to 10 times more likely to save a life than average.
One of these donors is Patrice, who signed up to the register whilst studying at Sheffield University and donated in June this year, potentially curing a stranger of blood cancer.
Patrice said: ‘I had absolutely no idea what stem cell donation was, but the Marrow guys explained it all to me and assured me it’s not painful, so I signed up. I just thought it was so easy and there’s a tiny chance of being picked, so why not? It’s a bit like entering the lottery, you don’t think you will win - but you buy a ticket anyway.
'Without Marrow I wouldn’t have signed up, as I wouldn’t have known anything about it. If it wasn’t for them, my recipient, whoever they may be, may never have had that second at chance at life.’
Eighteen year old Fresher Beth Mickleburgh, whose old sister Jemma runs the Sheffield Marrow group, knows first-hand the importance of stem cell donation, after her life was saved by a stem cell donor in 2012. She is now about to start at London School of Economics to study social anthropology.
Beth (left) with Jemma
Beth said: ‘It feels wonderful to look forward to the future and university, after everything in my life being so uncertain for so long.
‘Without my donor I wouldn’t be having any A-Level results or going to university. It’s thanks to them that I have all these amazing opportunities.’
Beth (left) with sister Jemma
Donor Patrice added: ‘I would encourage all students to sign up - there’s nothing to lose, it’s not going to cost you anything and you could get that chance to save someone’s life. There is a satisfaction from donating that you can’t get from anything else – it’s better than any exam result or any well paid graduate job!’
If you’re aged 16-30, you can join the register by clicking the button below: