Anthony Nolan has joined people all over the world to say ‘thank you’ to lifesaving stem cell and bone marrow donors.
To celebrate the second annual World Marrow Donor Day, approximately 100 donors who have donated lifesaving stem cells in the last year were invited to a party and afternoon tea hosted by Anthony Nolan at the Skyloft in central London this afternoon.
Among them were three donors who met the recipients of their stem cells for the very first time. One such donor was 48-year-old Kim Good from London, who donated her cells 20 years ago to Jasmine Langlay-Smith, now 24, from Kent. Kim also donated a further top-up of cells to Jasmine in what was the first successful donor lymphocyte infusion, which has now become standard practice.
‘I can’t believe it’s been two decades since that time in my life,’ said Jasmine. ‘I’m so grateful to Anthony Nolan for putting me in touch with Kim.’
Kim added, ‘It’s just nice to know you’ve helped someone.’
The guests had the chance to hear first-hand how important donors are, as transplant recipient George Norton described in a speech about meeting his own donor, Tim, for the first time earlier this month.
George, who has also written about the meeting on his blog, says, ‘Anyone who signs up to the stem cell register must have at least a minimal level of goodness. It’s a strange situation; for a donor, the process is short and involves little disruption to life; for a recipient, the transplant is everything – an unexpected bonus chance to live.
‘After my transplant I was able to get on with life powered by 100% Tim blood… I’m not just grateful to Tim for saving my life. I’m grateful for every extra day his cells have given me.’
The international day of celebration was organised by the World Marrow Donor Association, a global association of stem cell, bone marrow and cord blood registries representing more than 28 million donors from 52 different countries.
Anthony Nolan was the first bone marrow donor register in the world, established in 1974 by Shirley Nolan to find a match for her son Anthony. It recruits donors in the UK and also facilitates transplants by overseas donors to UK patients.
There are now more than 615,000 donors in the UK and more than 28 million potential donors worldwide.
However, there are still some patients who can’t find a match. Anthony Nolan needs more black, Asian and ethnic minority donors in particular in order to diversify worldwide registers.
Richard Davidson, Director of Engagement at Anthony Nolan, said:
‘It was fantastic to have the opportunity to meet some of our lifesaving donors in person and say a huge thank you to them. It was especially exciting to have so many donors and recipients meet each other for the first time today.
‘There are more than 600,000 potential donors in the UK, helping us to save the lives of three people a day. Everyone who has registered as a stem cell donor deserves thanks – and those who have gone on to donate their cells should be even more proud of the difference they have made to the lives of people with blood cancer.’
Events have been taking place around the world as registries take part in the World Marrow Donor Day celebrations. Visit www.wmda.info to find out more.