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Two-thirds of British people would not donate stem cells

2 July 2018
Appeared in BioNews 956

A survey carried out by the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan has found that 61 percent of British people would not feel encouraged to donate stem cells, even to help a family member or friend.

A total of 2000 people who had not previously donated stem cells were questioned by OnePoll, a market research company, on behalf of Anthony Nolan in May 2018. 

People were largely misinformed about the donation process, the survey found. Only 10 percent of people surveyed knew that stem cells could be donated through the blood stream. Additionally, 31 percent of young adults believed that bone marrow was extracted without anaesthesia in a very painful process. 

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.' In the survey, 43 percent of young adults under the age of 24 cited movies and TV as the source of their understanding of the donation process. 

In contrast, 50 people who had previously donated bone marrow or stem cells, and were questioned by the charity itself, gave a different view. Three-quarters said that the process was less painful than they had imagined or not painful at all. 

One stem cell donor said: 'The registration and donation process were simple and easy and yet, the difference it has made to my recipient has been literally life-changing. I'm hard pushed to think of anything else you could do that requires such minimal inconvenience on your part and still has the potential to make such a huge difference to someone else.'

Anthony Nolan is a registered UK charity that recruits stem cell donors between the age of 16 and 30 to help leukemia patients. The charity's register currently holds over 500,000 potential donors. The charity recently launched a new campaign, Be A Lifesaver, to urge more young men to join the register and sign up as a potential donor.

Almost two thirds of Britons would not donate stem cells to loved ones, survey claims
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