Make a Match
This campaign seeks to promote registration to the aligned UK stem cell registry to enable more people to receive potentially life-saving stem cell transplants.
Given the ongoing restrictions on meetings and campaigning activity, the NFWI will not be producing campaigns materials to our usual timetable. Instead, we will first focus on ways that members can learn more about the issues raised by the resolution with a full campaign pack to follow later.
Every twenty minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with blood cancer. Often, replacing their cancerous blood cells through a blood stem cell donation from a matching donor is their best chance of survival.
Ideally, stem cells are taken from a family member of the person who needs them (siblings are the most likely to match your tissue type). However, according to NHS Blood and Transplant, 65-75% of people who require this treatment are unable to find a sibling match.
Most people, therefore, depend on finding a suitable donor on the aligned ‘Anthony Nolan and NHS Stem Cell Registry’. This is formed of Anthony Nolan, DKMS UK, NHS Blood and Transplant, and the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry. There is also a global network of registries which can be searched.
While a number of organisations are already working on this issue, meeting the demand for suitable stem cell donors is recognised as a big challenge. DKMS UK says that many people die because they are unable to find a donor.
Currently, in the UK, only 2% of people are registered as stem cell donors. In order for more matches to be found, more people are urgently needed to join the registry.
How you can get involved
1. Help improve the understanding of stem cell donation. A lack of awareness of the need for more stem cell donors and misconceptions about the process are some of the main challenges to increasing the number of people on the aligned UK stem cell registry. At the end of this page, you will find a list of resources which we would encourage you to share with other members of your WI and friends and family. We have also created a number of infographics to share on social media. Visit My WI to download them and don’t forget to use the hashtag #WIMakeaMatch.
Alternatively, you could consider holding a virtual meeting (or in-person meeting where feasible) with members of your WI and the local community to share information and discuss the issue in more depth. If you are arranging a meeting, the charity DKMS would be happy to try and arrange a speaker for you. You can contact them using the details included below.
2. Share our WI Signup links. The NFWI has worked with Anthony Nolan and DKMS to create WI specific sign up links to the stem cell registry, which you can use yourself or share with those around you. These links will allow us to keep track of the number of people that sign up as a potential donor as a result of our Make a Match campaign.
DKMS/WI Signup link: www.dkms.org.uk/thewi
Anthony Nolan/WI Signup link: www.anthonynolan.org/WI
Signing up to become a stem cell donor is a personal choice and there are restrictions on who can register. Eligibility criteria vary across organisations involved in this process. Anthony Nolan, for example, focuses on people aged 16-30 on the basis that this age group provides the best outcomes for patients. While DKMS registers people aged between 18 and 55 who are in general good health and live permanently in the UK. People aged 17 can also ‘pre-register’ with them in advance. You can find out more about this and how to sign up by visiting their websites.
3. Take part in Blood Cancer Awareness Month. September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month and we will be encouraging members to share with us how they have been or will be, promoting the importance of stem cell donations amongst their networks. We have also created a number of infographics to share on social media. Visit My WI to download them and don’t forget to use the hashtag #WIMakeaMatch.
4. Share your experiences with us. If you have registered as a potential stem cell donor, donated your stem cells or received a transplant, we would love to hear your story. Stories can make a big difference when it comes to raising awareness, and so, with your permission, we may share these through our communication channels, including WI Life, the WI websites, Public Affairs resources and social media. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more about stem cell donation
- For key facts on blood cancer and the need for more people to join the aligned stem cell registry, visit: www.anthonynolan.org/facts-and-stats
- To find out more about blood cancer, visit: www.dkms.org.uk/en/about-blood-cancer
- For more information on stem cells and the British Bone Marrow Registry, visit the NHS Blood and Transplant website: www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/what-we-do/transplantation-services/stem-cells/
- To learn more about how to become a potential blood stem cell donor, visit: www.dkms.org.uk/en/registration-donation-process-explained, or watch this video from DKMS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyB686Gnbbg
- For more information about the shortage of BAME donors, visit ACLT’s website: https://aclt.org/impact-of-our-work/
- Download and share this leaflet about some myths surrounding stem donor registration
To support WI members to get involved with the campaign, the NFWI Public Affairs Team has produced a range of resources which can be found on this page.