Two thirds of Brits wouldn’t donate stem cells, even to save a loved one

Nearly two thirds of Brits wouldn’t donate their stem cells – even if a loved one needed a transplant.

A survey of 2,000 adults found 61 per cent couldn’t be encouraged to donate, even to help their nearest and dearest.

Potential donors worry donating stem cells may be painful

put Four in 10 Brits say reports of stem cell and bone marrow transplants being too painful put them off donating – and just 16 per cent have donated stem cells or bone marrow in the past.  This figure is nearly five times fewer than those who have donated blood.

Doctors treat some blood diseases with stem cell transplants. Stem cells inside the body used for this have yet to develop into red or white blood cells or platelets, and usually develop inside bone marrow.

90 per cent of collections are done through the bloodstream

However, peripheral blood stem cell collection, which accounts for 90 per cent of transplants, is taken from the bloodstream.

The research was conducted by blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, whose new campaign ‘Be A Lifesaver’ encourages more young men to join the donation register.

Misconceptions preventing people from saving lives

Rebecca Pritchard, Head of Register Development at Anthony Nolan, said:

“There are lots of misconceptions that stop or delay people from registering to save a life – and that’s something we’re tackling head on.

“Educating people about what it means to be a donor is a key part of our role in growing the Anthony Nolan register.

“We’re currently only able to find the best possible match for 69 per cent of patients who need a transplant so we need more people, especially young men, to join so we can find the best match for everyone.

“Joining the register is a simple process. If you’re aged 16-30 and in good health you can join the register online and we’ll send you a cheek swab in the post.”

Donors report process was painless, or less painful than imagined

Almost a third of young adults wrongly believe that bone marrow is extracted without anaesthesia, and is extremely painful.

In reality, nine out of 10 times stem cells are donated through the bloodstream in a straightforward process – however, only 10 per cent of Brits know this, with the majority believing a much more arduous and painful procedure is necessary.

Of those who have previously donated stem cells to someone with blood cancer or another blood disorder, three quarters reported the process was less painful than they imagined – or not painful at all.

Rebecca Pritchard added:

“Hollywood films such as Will Smith’s ‘7 Pounds’ – which portrayed a fictionalised and shocking process to a global audience – have left a lasting impact on the public.

“We’re trying to dispel this misconception, and see if more young people would be willing to give a little, in order to potentially save a life.”