19 October 2020

More than two million people are now on the UK stem cell register – with 326,756 names being added in just 12 months, it has been announced.

The Anthony Nolan and NHS Stem Cell Registry, which comprises donors signed up by NHS Blood and Transplant, the Welsh Blood Service, DKMS and Anthony Nolan, had campaigned to get more men and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to register.

In 2019/20, 62% of people who donated stem cells or bone marrow to patients in the UK were men under 30 – and although they are the demographic most likely to be chosen to donate, they make up 19% of the UK stem cell register.

The percentage of all donors from minority ethnic backgrounds remained steady at 13% in 2019/20. Patients from Black, Asian or other minority backgrounds have a 20% chance of finding the best possible stem cell match from an unrelated donor, compared to 69% for northern European backgrounds.

Henny Braund, chief executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “Nobody could have foreseen the challenges this year would bring to building a healthy, diverse stem cell register. But we’ve adapted and we’ve innovated - as patients can’t wait - and we’re thrilled that in 2020, we’ve collectively recruited two million donors onto the stem cell register. The two million milestone means increased chances for many of finding an unrelated donor match.

“We’re still far from our goal of finding a match for everyone who needs one.”

Christopher Harvey, Head of the Welsh Bone Marrow Registry, said: “Despite this great news we still have more to do. Unfortunately, there are still patients who are unable to find a match. That’s why we’re committed to ensuring every patient has the best possible chance of finding that one lifesaving donor in their time of need.”

Jonathan Pearce, CEO of DKMS UK said: “At any one time there are around 2,000 people in the UK in need of a blood stem cell transplant, so whilst we recognise this achievement it goes without saying that we need to continue to encourage everyone that can register to do so.”

Guy Parkes, head of stem cell donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said since its creation 33 years ago, the register has helped to save and improve the lives of thousands of people.

Source: Anthony Nolan


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