The annual review of the Anthony Nolan and NHS Stem Cell Registry reveals that more than 170,000 people registered to become stem cell donors in 2017.
However, while the UK stem cell register now stands at 1.4 million, the review has found that young men are significantly under represented on the register.
If a patient has a condition that affects their bone marrow or blood, a stem cell transplant may be their best chance of survival. Doctors will give new, healthy stem cells to the patient via their bloodstream, where they begin to grow and create healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
More than 2,200 searches for a lifesaving stem cell transplant were made in 2017 with 82% of people who donated stem cells or bone marrow being men, and 57%, men aged under 30. Men under 30 make up just 12% of the UK stem cell register, highlighting the importance of raising awareness of their lifesaving potential within this group.
Marginally fewer donors from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds joined the UK stem cell register in 2017 (23,947 vs 24,383 in 2016). Donors from minority ethnic backgrounds make up just 13% of the UK stem cell register (the remainder are 80.3% British Irish and northern European, 6.3% unknown/prefer not to say). The result is that patients from black, Asian or other minority backgrounds have a 20% chance of finding the best possible stem cell donor match, compared to 69% for those from British Irish and northern European backgrounds.
The combined UK register is known as the Anthony Nolan and NHS Stem Cell Registry, and is made up of donors recruited by NHS Blood and Transplant, the Welsh Blood Service, DKMS and Anthony Nolan. The UK donor registers are urging young men and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to register and ensure that all patients in need of a stem cell transplant can find a, potentially, lifesaving match.
Henny Braund, Anthony Nolan Chief Executive, said: “Despite a pleasing increase in the number of young men joining the stem cell donor register, the fact remains that 12% of the register provides 57% of all stem cell donations. We have had great success working with schools, colleges and universities across the UK through our Marrow and The Hero Project programmes – and will continue to focus our efforts in this area to meet our ambitious target of recruiting 100,000 potential donors a year by 2020, of whom 20,000 are from minority ethnic backgrounds.
“Anthony Nolan is delighted to work in partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant, the Welsh Blood Service and DKMS and will continue to work collaboratively to meet our shared vision of finding a match for every patient in need of a stem cell transplant.”
To read the full report, A Committed Collaboration, click here.