SIGNATURES have passed the 2,000 mark on the Examiner’s petition for the Government to improve education about bone marrow donation.
The online petition went ‘live’ on the 10 Downing Street website on Friday and had yesterday gained 1,939 signatures.
It calls for the Government to change education policy to ensure all sixth form and college students are taught about bone marrow donation as standard.
In terms of size, our petition is ranked 65th out of the 6,175 petitions on the website. You can show your support and sign up by visiting http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/bone-marrow.
The petition is part of a campaign being spearheaded by Examiner journalist Adrian Sudbury, who received a bone marrow transplant during his 18-month battle with leukaemia.
Adrian, 26, has been given just weeks to live – but has pledged to use that time to campaign for better awareness about the importance of bone marrow donation.
He is keen to dispel the many myths about what being a donor involves.
Some people mistakenly believe it is a very painful procedure, that there is drilling into the spine or that donating can leave you paralysed.
Adrian said: “At the moment there is too much misconception surrounding these procedures. There is also an urgent need for blood, bone marrow and organ donors to come forward.
“All I am trying to achieve is a 40-minute talk to all second year sixth form students about why it is important to think about donating blood, bone marrow and organs.
“It’s only right that people should be able to make an informed choice either way. If people donate blood, or join a bone marrow register in their teens, then they will often continue to give blood and they will be on the register for a long time.”
There are two ways of donating bone marrow. The first – used in 75% of cases – is similar to giving blood.
The second – used in the other 25% of cases – involves marrow being taken directly from the bones. The donor is placed under a general anaesthetic and needles are inserted into the bone on different sites of the body to gather marrow. Donors spend a night in hospital and the only side effect reported by most is some temporary soreness.
The UK has two registers – one kept by the National Blood Service, the other by charity The Anthony Nolan Trust. Both work together.
You can ask to be put on the register when you go to a National Blood Service clinic to give blood. Or you can attend an Anthony Nolan Trust donor clinic or contact the charity and ask for a special registration pack. You take this to your GP, who takes a small blood sample, which is posted off with your form to the Anthony Nolan Trust.
When a patient needs a bone marrow transplant, the Anthony Nolan Trust searches registers all over the world to find a match.
Currently, 16,000 people across the globe are waiting for a transplant to give them a chance at life. There are 12m donors worldwide, 300,000 of whom are in the UK.
Unfortunately, the odds of these donors being a match for one of the 16,000 desperate patients are one in several thousand – which is why the trust is so keen to get more people signed up.
You can contact the trust on the web or call its hotline number, 0901 882 2234.
You can sign up as a donor if you are aged 18 to 40 and in good health. You should be willing to stay on the register for some time, as you can be called as a potential donor until the age of 60. You should also be prepared to keep the trust up to date with your address, contact details and changes in circumstance, such as health problems.
The trust also stresses that donors should be committed to going through with the procedure, as it costs money to register people and store their samples.
Adrian said: “These databases are expensive to maintain, so it’s important that as many young and committed people as possible are involved.”
If you want to sign up as a donor, you can go along to a donor recruitment clinic organised by the Examiner and the Anthony Nolan Trust on June 18 at the Huddersfield Methodist Mission, on Lord Street, from 2pm to 7pm.