More than a quarter of bone marrow donors are students

Spitting in a cup can save lives

Over a quarter of bone marrow or stem cell donors are now recruited at unis, according to a blood cancer charity. 

In the last two years, student donors have given a staggering 227 strangers in desperate need of a transplant a chance by donating their stem cells.

This represents a huge 27 per cent of the total number of stem cell donations to non-relatives in the UK since 2013.

The data was collected by the Anthony Nolan charity, whose network of uni volunteer groups Marrow will be recruiting more donors at fresher’s fairs this week.

One of these donors is Patrice Ellis, who signed up to the register while studying Economics at Sheffield University and donated in June – potentially curing a somebody he’d never met of blood cancer.


Patrice may saved a life with his stem cell donation

Patrice said: “I had absolutely no idea what stem cell donation was, but the Marrow guys explained it all to me and assured me it’s not painful, so I signed up.

“I just thought it was so easy and there’s a tiny chance of being picked, so why not?

“It’s a bit like entering the lottery, you don’t think you will win – but you buy a ticket anyway.

“Marrow volunteers are the real heroes, without them I wouldn’t have signed up, as I wouldn’t have know anything about it.

“If it wasn’t for them, my recipient, whoever they may be, may never have had that second at chance at life.

“I would encourage all students to sign up – there’s nothing to lose, it’s not going to cost you anything and you could get that chance to save someone’s life.

“There is a satisfaction from donating that you can’t get from anything else – it’s better than any exam result or any well paid graduate job!”


LSE Social Anthropology fresher Beth Mickleburgh’s life was saved by a stem cell donation three years ago, and now her sister Jemma runs the Sheffield Marrow Group.

Beth said: “It feels wonderful to look forward to the future and university, after everything in my life being so uncertain for so long.

“Without my donor I wouldn’t be having any A-Level results or going to university. It’s thanks to them that I have all these amazing opportunities.”

Charlotte Connolly, Marrow Programme Lead at Anthony Nolan said: “There is a silent lifesaving revolution unfolding at universities across the UK, thanks to our Marrow volunteers.

“These selfless students are truly having a lifesaving impact, as the amazing statistics show – it’s incredible that they are responsible for a quarter of the lives we save as a charity.”

Oxford uni Marrow volunteers

Oxford uni Marrow volunteers

He added: “The hours they spend on their tireless campaigning– on top of all their studies – mean that as a charity we can give more blood cancer sufferers a second chance at life.

“As young people are most likely to be chosen to donate, this Freshers’ Week, it’s vital that Marrow continues to share how easy it is to sign up and donate your stem cells for people in desperate need of a transplant.”

 You can find out more about Marrow at the Anthony Nolan website.