Sixty Anthony Nolan LGBTQ+ staff and allies will march with over 300 other organisations at this week's 'Pride in London' to help Anthony Nolan mark 10 years of gay and bisexual men joining the stem cell register.
The group, which includes LGBTQ+ donors, is celebrating the fact that In September 2007, Anthony Nolan took the pioneering step to allow gay and bisexual men to sign up to potentially save the life of a stranger in desperate need.
Jon Evans, a 28-year-old stem cell donor from Christchurch, donated his stem cells at University College London Hospital in June 2017.
He said: ‘I joined the Anthony Nolan register about three years ago after talking to a friend of mine who works for Anthony Nolan. We were talking about blood donation, and how I’m not able to donate because I’m gay. She explained to me that gay men can sign up to the stem cell register. I was actually quite surprised to hear that was the case.'
Jon, a project manager for a construction management consultancy, said: ‘The whole donation process was so simple. I travelled down the day before and stayed in a hotel – then the donation itself was literally just sitting in a bed for five hours watching Love Island.
'I knew before that it was going to be easy and pain free, but it really genuinely is like that. I felt like everything was explained to me so well beforehand that I knew exactly what to expect.’
Jon added: ‘I think the reason so many gay and bisexual men think that they can’t join the register is because... they are used to being left out of something that’s quite similar [donating blood] so they expect to be left out of this too.’
Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: ‘I am thrilled to celebrate such an important milestone this Pride season. Every day, Anthony Nolan is proud to help three people in desperate need of a stem cell transplant, and every person who signs up following Pride has the potential to go on and save a life, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.
‘Sadly, gay and bisexual men often think that they cannot join the Anthony Nolan register, which is why it is so important to be visible at Pride. We want everyone to know that no matter their background, identity or sexuality, they can join our register and help us save lives with pride.’
If you’re between 16-30 years old and in good health, you can sign up to the Anthony Nolan register. To donate towards the lifesaving work of Anthony Nolan, or to join the register, go to: www.anthonynolan.org