It’s a little off-topic today but vitally important that I share something with you. As a CML patient you hope that the disease is kept under control through the wonderful new drugs constantly in development. However things don’t always go as well as planned and the conversation can soon turn to talk of a bone marrow, or stem-cell, transplant. Thankfully my drugs are working but my consultant took the belt-and-braces approaches of ensuring I had a “match”, especially as I have no siblings. But how does this process work, and where do these “matches” come from?

I’ve been able to visit the Anthony Nolan charity today. Primarily to talk about their 16+ donor programme but also to find out a little more about who they are and what they do.

“Anthony Nolan is a pioneering charity that saves the lives of people with blood cancer who need a blood stem cell, or bone marrow transplant. In 1974, Anthony Nolan’s mother, Shirley, set up the world’s first bone marrow register to match donors with people who desperately needed a transplant. Now, every day, we help two people in need of a lifesaving transplant by using our register to find remarkable donors who have matching stem cells, or bone marrow. We are a UK charity with international reach. We carry out world class research into stem cell matching and transplants to improve outcomes for all patients. For many people with blood cancer, a stem cell or bone marrow transplant is their last chance of life. For the transplant to be a success they need to find the right match. As the UK’s most successful stem cell register, we help them find that match.”

Anthony Nolan are very keen to connect with schools and academies who offer sixth form provision. Students aged 16, 17 and 18 need to be aware what fantastic work they do and that it is as important to find out about donating stem cells as it is to carry a donor card.

The Register & Be a Lifesaver (R&B) programme provides all the resources needed and although this is a relatively new initiative ten of thousands of students have already found out more. Volunteers go into 6th forms, colleges and clubs where they talk to young people about how they could one day save a life. Register & Be a Lifesaver.

How to be an Anthony Nolan bone marrow donor:

From what I’ve learnt today Anthony Nolan will dispel myths, council, support and enable students to make that positive decision to go on the donor register. The decision of someone today will last a lifetime and potentially save lives. If you are a student, teacher or work in education I urge you to contact the charity directly, or through me, and invite them in to present to your sixth form. Thank you. Kris