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Stem cell donors shortage appeal by cancer charity

Lancaster's castle and city centre viewed from the top of the town hall clock tower. 06090514-6
Lancaster's castle and city centre viewed from the top of the town hall clock tower. 06090514-6

Despite new statistics showing that 1,367 people from Lancaster have registered as blood stem cell donors with blood cancer charity DKMS, the city is still falling short of potential lifesavers, making up just 2.8% of DKMS donors in the North West.

With someone diagnosed with a blood cancer every 20 minutes in the UK, DKMS is urging more people in the area to sign-up and go on standby to help save a life.

Blood cancers are now the third most common cause of cancer death in the UK. While for most people there is no single cure, a blood stem cell donation from a genetically similar person can offer the best treatment and could help give someone in need of a transplant a second chance at life.

There are over three times as many women (1,017) than men (350) in the town registered with DKMS, with people who are 31 and over more than three times as likely to register as a donor compared to those 30 and younger (1,008 versus 359).

DKMS has a growing register of over 400,000 UK donors but they desperately need more if a matching donor is to be found for everyone who needs one. Only one in three people with a blood cancer (and in need of a transplant) will find a matching blood stem cell donor within their own family – two in three need to look outside of this.

The first step to register is simple and straightforward – it takes minutes, you order your home swab kit online at dkms.org.uk/WithPeter, and then you swab the inside of your cheeks and send everything back in a pre-paid envelope to DKMS in order for your details to be added to the registry. You will then be on standby as a potential lifesaver.

If you are called upon, there are two donation methods. Around 90% of all donations are made through a method called peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC). In this method, blood is taken from one of the donor’s arms and a machine extracts the blood stem cells from it. The donor’s blood is then returned to them through their other arm. This is an outpatient procedure that is usually completed in 4-6 hours. In just 10% of cases, donations are made through bone marrow collection. Bone marrow is not extracted from the spine, but taken from the pelvic bone.

Lisa Nugent, Head of Donor Recruitment at DKMS says: “For a few minutes of your time now to sign up, you could save someone’s life in the future. If you’re aged between 17 and 55 and in general good health, there’s no excuse not to, as it could make all the difference to someone in need of a donation. There could be a #LifesaverInYou.”