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Men aged between 18 and 30 being called upon to join Highland lifesavers

By Louise Glen

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Rhoda Grant is supporting the Anthony Nolan campaign.
Rhoda Grant is supporting the Anthony Nolan campaign.

To mark Blood Cancer Awareness Month, Rhoda Grant MSP took part in a digital day of action to celebrate the number of potential stem cell donors in the Highlands and Islands on the Anthony Nolan register.

The Highlands and Islands MSP also called for more young men from the area to add their names to the register in light of the challenges to donor recruitment presented by the pandemic.

The day was marked by the charity today, Wednesday September 9, 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 (SFRS), who undertake vital work in schools through the SFRS education programme.

In the Highlands and Islands, 8614 potential stem cell donors are registered with Anthony Nolan. 23 per cent of these donors are men aged 16-30, and the average age is 32.

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.

Rhoda Grant is encouraging more people from the Highlands and Islands, 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 per cent of donations yet make up just 18 per cent of the register. There is also a shortage of donors from non-white and mixed-race backgrounds.

Ms Grant said: “I am very proud that the Highlands and Islands has 8614 registered 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 977 selfless Scots from the Highlands and Islands 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 the Highlands and Islands 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 anthonynolan.org/join .

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