70 potential stem cell donors recruited during ‘Hero Week’ at Cardiff University

1,350 lives potentially saved: Around 2,000 people in the UK need stem cell transplant every year. Source: Cardiff Marrow Society

By Tomos Evans

Volunteers at the Cardiff Marrow Society recently recruited 70 new stem cell donors and raised over £200 for charity.  This was achieved as part of ‘Hero Week’ – a week of activities aiming to get more people registered as stem cell donors.   

The week of activities took place between 18 and 22 November and included events such as a pub quiz and raffle at the Flora and several donor recruitment events taking place across campus. 

Asked what the main achievement of ‘Hero Week’ was, Hannah Rossiter, Co-President of Cardiff Marrow told Gair Rhydd: “I think the main thing is definitely raising awareness because so many students are just unaware of the fact that there is a stem cell register, that it’s so simple to sign up and that you can actually save a life just by spending five minutes of your time.”

Run by students at Cardiff University, Cardiff Marrow is part of a wider student volunteering network from the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan.  The charity was established in 1974 when three-year-old Anthony Nolan was requiring an urgent bone marrow transplant.In light of this, Anthony’s mother, Shirley Nolan, set up the first stem cell and bone marrow register to make it easier to find potential matches for those in need of a transplant. 

Currently, according to research by the Anthony Nolan charity, only 2% of people in the UK are registered donors, compared with 12% in Israel and 13% in Cyprus. 

The gravity of the situation is such that every 14 minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer or a similar condition. 

This means that Anthony Nolan are busy trying to recruit more donors in order to provide matches for those diagnosed with blood cancer or related conditions.  Currently, the charity helps three people every day be matched with a donor. 

Ahead of Cardiff Marrow’s ‘Hero Week’, Charlotte Hughes, Volunteer Engagement Manager for Marrow at Anthony Nolan, said: “The amazing volunteers from Cardiff Marrow deserve special recognition for their tireless efforts to save the lives of people with blood cancer – with or without capes and masks, they are truly heroic.”

Leading on from ‘Hero Week’, Cardiff Marrow has several other events in the pipeline, including carol singing on Queen Street. 

Cardiff Marrow is currently looking to get in touch with any societies that would be interested in organising donor recruitments in any of their socials.  Hannah added, “We hold really regular recruitment events. For example, we’re working with the ladies’ rugby team at the moment, organising a donor recruitment at one of their socials and we’re always keen to get in touch with other societies so we can come along to any of their training or rehearsals and just sign up their members there.”

If anyone is thinking about registering but unsure whether to sign up, Hannah said: “It’s not something to be scared of because it takes so little of your effort and makes the world of difference to somebody in need and their family.”

If your society is interested in organising a donor recruitment event, get in touch with Cardiff Marrow Society via their Facebook page, @cardiffmarrow. Or, to register as a potential stem cell and bone marrow donor, visit the Anthony Nolan charity’s website.

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