You may have noticed that we changed from asking people to provide a spit sample, to asking people to do a cheeky swab to join the stem cell register. We thought you might have some questions, so here’s everything you need to know about the switch to swabs:
Why did you change the way you recruit donors ?
At Anthony Nolan, we regularly review our processes to make sure we are working in the most efficient way possible.
This includes thinking about the way we recruit donors. We want to achieve our goal of finding the best possible match for everyone in need of a transplant, so we’ve decided to stop collecting spit samples, and will use swabs to collect cheek cells instead. This is because:
All of this will help us to achieve our aim of recruiting 100,000 new donors a year by 2020, which will in turn, help Anthony Nolan give a second chance of life to more people with blood cancer.
What is a swab?
It’s a good question! A cheek swab resembles a longer version of a cotton bud and is used to collect cells from the inside of a person’s cheek. People signing up to the register use the swabs to rub the inside of their own cheek to collect cells, which will then be tissue typed and added to our stem cell register.
How do I use a swab?
Doing a cheeky swab is easy! There are clear instructions on the packaging sent out to donors who apply online, and our volunteers are trained in explaining the process at events. Watch our animation to see how it’s done:
Is the sample you get from swabs as good as the sample you get from spit kits?
Yes. We have carried out extensive testing, and we are able to successfully recruit donors to the Anthony Nolan register using swabs.
If I signed up by giving a spit sample, do I need to sign up again?
No. Whichever method you sign up by, you’ll be on our register in exactly the same way, and ready to save someone’s life. There’s no need to apply again.
Why haven’t we switched to swabs before now?
We last looked at the way we recruit donors to the Anthony Nolan register back in 2012. At that time, swabs were a relatively new method for collecting DNA, and it wasn’t clear whether we would be able to extract the information we need to add donors to our register. So, we made the decision to keep using spit kits.
Now, swabs are used much more widely and we have also carried out extensive trials which have shown we’re able to accurately tissue type new donors using swabs, in order to add them to our register.
Will switching to swabs cost Anthony Nolan money?
We’ve invested a relatively small amount to develop and test recruiting donors using swabs. Sending out swab packs is actually cheaper than sending out spit kits, so we will be saving money that we can invest in recruiting even more donors to the register.