Anthony Nolan's 50th Birthday Campaign4

Anthony Nolan's 50th Birthday


On 2 December 2021, Anthony Nolan would’ve celebrated his 50th birthday. Tragically, Anthony never found the matching donor he needed and he died when he was just seven years old. But since his mum Shirley launched the world’s first stem cell register in 1974, Anthony’s story has given the hope of a lifesaving transplant to thousands of people with blood cancer or a blood disorder.

To mark Anthony’s 50th birthday, we’re celebrating his legacy and the incredible progress Shirley brought to the way blood cancer and blood disorders are treated. Below, you can see some of the inspiring stories and achievements that wouldn’t have happened #WithoutAnthony.

Without you, there is no cure

You can make sure that Anthony’s lifesaving legacy lives on for the next 50 years and far beyond.


The Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Register is established: the first of its kind. Today, it’s helped 22,000 people receive a lifesaving transplant. Before this, finding an unrelated stem cell donor was virtually impossible.

Anthony & Shirley Nolan_0042
Alan Corley had leukaemia as a child and was in hospital with Anthony Nolan. 40 years on, he started fundraising for us, inspired by the memory of his friend Anthony and his incredible mother Shirley.

Keeping hope alive

Anthony and I were in adjoining rooms at Westminster Children’s Hospital. I was six at the time and he was seven. There was a glass window and during the day we talk to each other and play cards through the glass. We only saw each other really, there was nobody else.

Alan Corley


Building of the Anthony Nolan Research Institute begins. Today, it's driving ground-breaking research to reduce transplant complications and improve quality of life after transplant.

Anna Domogala - Immunotherapy

1994 & 1995

The Anthony Nolan register helps its 1,000th patient, matching them with an anonymous donor for the second chance of life that Shirley believed everyone deserved.


Science is saving lives

After her lifesaving bone marrow transplant, six-year-old Sonal had to spend two years in hospital while she recovered. This meant she failed her SATS. But two degrees and many years later, she’s using her expertise to help others with blood conditions.


Anthony Nolan sets up the UK’s first dedicated cord blood bank enabling 62,000 new mothers to follow in Shirley’s lifesaving footsteps, donating their umbilical cords for transplant and research.

Cord Blood Collection – Dolapo Ogundimo is a new mum who donated her baby's cord blood. Her son, Cyprien, is a born lifesaver!
Patient Joanna with daughter Alice

From surviving to thriving

Anthony never got to reach this milestone birthday, but his story and Shirley’s endless commitment to improve treatment meant that others like Joanna could.


The 800,000th person joined the stem cell register, taking Shirley’s vision to inspiring new heights. Bring on the million!


50 years of progress

Born 50 years apart, two-year-old Daniel received a stem cell transplant after being diagnosed with the same blood disorder as Anthony.

We will be forever grateful to Shirley for being the reason Daniel is here today. Happy heavenly birthday to the forever little boy Anthony.

Georgie, Daniel’s mum

Without you, there is no cure

There’s still a long way to go before every patient can survive blood cancer and live well after a stem cell transplant. Give a donation today and you’ll be supporting Anthony’s legacy on his landmark birthday, helping to make lifesaving matches happen, investing in vital research and giving patients the hope of a cure.

A gift of £5 a month helps to ensure our volunteer couriers can deliver lifesaving stem cells to a patient in waiting.

A gift of £10 a month could sign up three lifesaving stem cell donors every year.

A gift of £15 a month could help pay for our umbilical cord collection programme – making little lifesavers of babies only minutes old!

£10 goes a long way to helping our scientists conduct ground-breaking research that will save lives over the next 50 years.

£30 could pay for an hour of a specialist post-transplant nurse’s time – someone who offers invaluable support to our patients and their families, particularly during this difficult time.

£40 could add a donor to the stem cell register – that donor could go on to save the life of a child like Anthony.