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University Marrow societies recruit over 11,000 to Stem Cell Register in one year


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University students in the UK have successfully recruited almost 12,000 people to the stem cell register this academic year.

Students that are a part of Marrow societies, now present in 55 UK universities, have acted as a catalyst to spur people to do what they can to save another’s life - leading to amazing results.

In 2017-2018 academic year alone, Marrow has recruited 11,917 students to the stem cell register.

In addition, they have helped raised £160,000 to fund the charity’s research initiatives.

On university campuses, Marrow societies run recruitment drives, hold fundraising events, and spread the word to raise awareness about stem cell donations - and clearly, their efforts are paying off.

Charlotte Cunliffe, Marrow Programme Lead at Anthony Nolan, says: “Our Marrow volunteers really are the unsung heroes, helping Anthony Nolan give hope to patients with blood cancer and, as the numbers show, it’s been an amazing, lifesaving year!”

After collecting registrations, marrow society members hand the names to Anthony Nolan and the charity aims to find matches for blood cancer and blood disorder patients that are in need of stem cell transplants.

Anthony Nolan, previously known as Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Register, was founded in 1974 by Shirley Nolan after her son was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome. Unfortunately, Anthony was not able to find a bone marrow match and died in 1979.

Shirley made it her life’s mission to help other patients find matches by creating a register for bone marrow and stem cells transplants.

Since then, the charity has been responsible for 1,000 stem cell donations and made up a quarter of all stem cell donations in the last two years.

Marrow’s origins draw similarities to the charity that it benefits.

In 1998, University of Nottingham student James Kustow learned that his childhood friend Karen had been diagnosed with leukaemia and needed a bone marrow transplant in order to survive. In response, James successfully organised a group of students to join the Anthony Nolan register to help find her a match. 

Although Karen was unable to survive after relapsing four months later, James continued his work and inspired other students to do the same.

The emergence of Marrow societies in 1998 saw an additional growth in potential donors, and that year was the first time the charity provided donors for 300 transplants in a single year.

Marrow’s contributions to Anthony Nolan are vital, as 28% of all Anthony Nolan stem cell donations come from Marrow societies. The charity has recruited over 100,000 potential donors onto the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register since 1998.

“Every day, at least five people start their search for a matching unrelated stem cell donor," says Charlotte.

"The tireless efforts of all of our selfless student volunteers, helping to grow our register and raise vital funds to make our work possible, mean that more people in urgent need are given a second chance of life." 

Find out more about Marrow societies here. 

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