March of the Men is a month-long campaign run by Anthony Nolan, the blood cancer charity, which seeks to recruit as many young men aged 16-30 to the register as possible.
Anthony Nolan’s aim to find a match for every person in need of a stem cell or bone marrow transplant. Young men aged 16-30 currently account for just 16% of the register, but provide over 50% of all potentially lifesaving transplants. This is why the ‘March of the Men’ campaign is so important.
On average, people on the register have a 1 in 790 chance of being asked to donate stem cells or bone marrow in the next five years, whereas a man aged 16-30 has a 1 in 170 chance. As our research indicates that young men provide better outcomes for patients, it’s of vital importance that we encourage more of them to sign up as potential stem cell donors.
‘Marrow’ is the collective name given to Anthony Nolan’s student volunteer network. Operating in over 50 universities across the UK, Marrow groups campaign, fundraise and – crucially – recruit young students to join the stem cell register on our behalf. Incredibly, donors recruited at university by Marrow groups account for more than a quarter of all potentially lifesaving transplants that take place in the UK each year.
As the Marrow Volunteer Engagement Coordinator at Anthony Nolan, my job is to develop and deliver training workshops and presentations for our student volunteers. I also help to oversee the quality of our university recruitment events to make sure that procedures are being followed properly, and that we’re recruiting potential stem cell donors in the best possible way.
Recently, the Anthony Nolan Research Institute (ANRI) carried out the largest-ever UK study into the factors that can make a stem cell transplant more successful. Early indications show the age of the donor can affect patient outcomes, with younger donors leading to better survival rates. Marrow groups at universities have access not only to young people, but young people from a vast range of ethnic backgrounds, meaning they are of fundamental importance.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting a young man called Chris Lane at The London Clinic while he was donating his stem cells. Coincidentally, it turned out that it was me who had signed him up to the Anthony Nolan register when I was a Marrow volunteer two years ago. He said: ‘I had only briefly heard of Anthony Nolan before signing up. It wasn’t until I saw a stand at university that my curiosity to find out more led me to want to be included on the register.
‘I had never thought about how I would feel or react to being told that I was required to donate but when it happened, I felt a sense of pride and required no second thought to follow through with whatever was required. ‘I think about the person who received my cells every day. Life is the best gift you could ever give someone so my fingers are always crossed for them.’
To find out more about the campaign, or to join the register, please visit www.anthonynolan.org/notaverage