To mark Blood Cancer Awareness Month this September, Ruth Maguire MSP took part in a digital ‘Day of Action’ to celebrate the number of potential stem cell donors in Cunninghame South on the Anthony Nolan register and raise awareness of the urgent need for more donors in light of the challenges to donor recruitment presented by the pandemic.

This day was marked by Anthony Nolan on Wednesday 9 September, as part of its Communities vs Blood Cancer campaign, which shines a spotlight on vital work being done locally to ensure that every patient in need of a stem cell transplant can find a lifesaving donor.

Anthony Nolan’s lifesaving work has been greatly enhanced at a local level by the charity’s eleven-year partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, who undertake vital work in schools through the SFRS Education Programme.

In Cunninghame South, 860 potential stem cell donors are registered with Anthony Nolan.

In total, more than 800,000 people in the UK are on the Anthony Nolan register, any of whom could be a match for someone with blood cancer and asked to donate their stem cells to give a patient a second chance of life.

Now, Ruth Maguire is encouraging more people from North Ayrshire, particularly men aged 16-30 and people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds, to register as stem cell donors and make sure that a match is available for everyone in need of a transplant. While anyone on the register could be a match for someone with blood cancer, men aged 16-30 are most likely to be asked to donate. They provide more than 50% of donations yet make up just 18% of the register. There is also a shortage of donors from non-white and mixed-race backgrounds.

Ruth Maguire MSP said: “I am very proud that Cunninghame South has 860 potential stem cell donors, any one of whom could offer the only chance of giving someone with blood cancer a second chance at life. Donating stem cells is straightforward but it could make an enormous difference to someone with no other chance of a cure.”

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “In the last year 108 selfless Scots from Cunninghame South joined the Anthony Nolan register, each one representing hope for patients with blood cancer, and blood disorders, in need of matching stem cell donors.

“This Blood Cancer Awareness Month residents can be proud of all the lifesavers in your community. To everyone from North Ayrshire who has taken the decision to join the register, thank you. It is vital we recruit more ethnically-diverse, young, male, donors to ensure everyone who needs a transplant can access one. Without you, there is no cure.”

For more information on Anthony Nolan visit their website.

Anthony Nolan uses its register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer patients in desperate need of a stem cell transplant. It also carries out vital research to make stem cell transplants more successful, and supports patients through their transplant journeys.

  • About 2,000 people in the UK need a stem cell transplant from a donor every year
  • 90% of donors donate through PBSC (peripheral blood stem cell collection). This is a simple, outpatient procedure similar to giving blood
  • We need more young men to sign up, as they are most likely to be chosen to donate but make up just 18% of the register
  • We need more people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to sign up. Only 60% of transplant recipients receive the best match. This drops dramatically to around 20% (one in five of transplant recipients) if you’re from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority background.
  • Blood cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK and the third biggest cancer killer. It accounts for 9% of all new cases of cancer diagnosed in the UK.
  • It costs £40 to add each new donor to the register so we always need financial support
  • To join the Anthony Nolan register, you must be 16-30 and healthy. Anthony Nolan’s world-leading Research Institute has shown younger donors offer better survival rates for patients.