LUU Marrow Society move campaign for stem cell donors online

The society, which usually runs a range of events, socials and fundraisers, has one main aim: to sign people up to the stem cell register.

The stem cell register is an online record of people willing to donate their stem cells to patients with blood cancers such as leukaemia and lymphoma and other diseases such as sickle cell anaemia.

Leeds Marrow, which is student-run branch of the Anthony Nolan Charity, used to be seen on campus asking people to sign up to the register by giving a cheek swabs. 

Matthew told the Gryphon: “Normally people would come in, do a quick swab and then be on the register from the age of sixteen to sixty.”

However, clearly swabs distributed in person are no longer possible due to the ongoing pandemic.

“It’s not very COVID secure to be going around campus sticking swabs in people’s mouths”.

That is why the Leeds Marrow society are moving their campaign online and are eager for students to sign up through their online link.  By visiting their page, you will be directed to the Anthony Nolan charity through which you can order a swab and a form.

Last year the Leeds Marrow branch signed 1055 donors to the register – the second highest sign up number of any university in the country after Glasgow.

Once on the register there is still only a 1/200 chance that a person will be called to donate and for the most part the transplant process is simple and painless.

The transplants can be live-saving for those with blood cancers and are often their final chance.

Leeds Marrow society are actively looking for people of Black, Asian and other ethnic minority backgrounds to sign up as there is a shortage in these communities.

At the moment, the chances of a white person finding a match are only 60%, whilst for a person of an ethnic minority background, the chances are only 20%.

Matthew explains how, for example, someone of an Indian background might have to fly a courier out to India in order to bring back the matching cells – a process which is obviously costlier and more difficult.

The society hopes that it can encourage students to request the tests and are always looking for volunteers to help them find more donors.