Society Spotlight: Southampton Marrow

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Hello! We’re Marrow!  

We work with Anthony Nolan, a charity that saves the lives of people with blood cancer. We sign amazing individualup to the stem cell register, where one day they could go on to save a patient’s life.  

In the UK, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer every 14 minutes. When other treatments have failed, a stem cell transplant may be a patient’s only chance of survival. Donors need to be genetically compatible with patients in need – so when someone needs a transplant, they look to find a match within their family. However, 75% of patients won’t find a match this waymeaning the global registry of stem cell donors needs to be searched. Anthony Nolan is one of those charities that goes above and beyond to find potential matches from people across the globe! 

Since its creation in 1974, Antony Nolan has signed up over 820,000 individuals to their stem cell register, and has provided over 16,000 stem cell transplants. The charity’s success in finding suitable donors enables them to provide a transplant to 3 patients every single day. Last year alone, they gave a second chance of life to over 300 children who were not able to find a suitable match within their families. We’ve also played our part – last academic year, we signed up over 120 potential donors to the register!

Unfortunately, only 2% of the UK population are currently on the stem cell register. Young males and individuals from minority ethnic groups are greatly underrepresented, making it Antony Nolan’s mission, alongside student-run Marrow groups, to diversify the register. Currently, young males only make up 16% of the register, but provide over 50% of all donationsDue to the lack of diversity on the register, patients from black and other minority ethnic backgrounds only have a 20% chance of finding their perfect match, compared with a 69% chance for patients from a white European background. Finding a potential match can depend on factors such as age, gender and ethnicity, so our aim is to make finding a suitable donor accessible to everyone. 

Our society’s mission is to sign up as many potential lifesavers as possible, to make sure that everyone who needs a stem cell transplant for survival can have one. To help us achieve this, we want to collaborate with other societies within the university to spread awareness and encourage many more students to sign up. In-person events and fundraisers will be difficult this year, however, we are eager to continue our events online to keep everyone safe, and the good news is that you can sign up and become a lifesaver from the comfort of your home! Most healthy individuals between 16-30 can sign up to the register – and it’s so easy to do! All it takes is a quick health questionnaire and a swab from the inside of your cheek. 

Most people are put off at the thought of donating stem cells or bone marrow, so we also play an important role in myth-busting! 90% of people donate in a process similar to giving blood: the blood is taken out of one arm, stem cells are removed and blood is returned to the donor’s other arm. This takes around four hours, giving plenty of time to catch up on box sets! You’ve probably heard about the other method of donation (from the bone itself), but it’s not that scary as it sounds! If asked to donate in this way, a sample of bone marrow is removed from the hip bone, with the procedure carried out under general anaesthetic (so the donor is asleep and can’t feel a thing!) 

If you’d like to find out more about how you can volunteer with us or even save a life, head to our socials or our website: anthonynolan.org/SouthamptonMarrow 

Together, we can save lives.  

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